Title: Something Extraordinary
Summary: A vintage dress, a lost love letter, and a little scheming set in motion events that will change the lives of four people and remind them that extraordinary love is worth fighting for.
Pairing: Edward/Bella, Emmett/Rosalie
Bells jingled cheerfully as I pushed open the door to Cache, the vintage shop a coworker had recommended.
"Hello! Is there something I can help you find today?" the girl behind the register greeted.
"My boyfriend is a junior associate at Waters & York, and they're hosting a garden party. I need a dress that's summery but still fancy enough for the lawyer set," I explained.
"How fun! I'm sure we'll have something perfect." She led me to a rack of colorful dresses, then, with my assurance that I would tell her if I needed to try anything on, she returned to the front of the store.
I perused the dresses until a dark teal one caught my eye. The deep sweetheart neckline of the bodice ended just below the bust and it had Queen Anne sleeves. The skirt was a large rose print and it looked like it would flare prettily when I moved.
I called over the sales girl and she led me to a dressing room. As I slipped the soft material over my head, a sense of rightness settled over me. I glanced in the mirror, and even without having the dress zipped, I knew it was perfect.
I was smoothing my hands appreciatively over the fitted waist and the flared skirt when something crinkled beneath my fingertips. My brows furrowed in confusion; there was no crinoline in the skirt, so it shouldn't crinkle. I felt around the skirt and my hand slipped into a hidden pocket.
My breath caught in my throat as I pulled out an envelope bearing the red, white, and blue air-mail border, yellowed with age. I carefully lifted the flap and removed the delicate letter.
My Dearest Rosie,
I'm sorry I haven't written yet. I've had no opportunity until now. But, you must believe me, you are constantly on my mind. Your coy smile that hides your secrets, the mischievous sparkle in your eyes, the silk of your skin beneath my fingertips.
I was never a religious man, but having met you, I now believe in angels.
In the middle of a war there are no guarantees, so I know I can't promise you a future. But, if you promise to wait for me, I promise to do everything I can to return to you.
I wish I could have stayed with you, married you, built a life with you. I still want to, and though it's not fair to you, I implore you: don't marry Royce.
Though I can't offer you the stability he can, he can't offer you a hundredth of the love I can. I know in your heart you feel the same way, but your practical mind is telling you it's too fast, too impossible.
Rosie, please listen to your heart. The love we have is extraordinary, and it's worth fighting for.
I am fighting for us.
Tears welled in my eyes as I read the passionate words. His message of extraordinary love struck a chord inside me, casting a harsh light on something that was severely lacking in my life.
I had been with Jasper for nearly a year now, and while he was a sweet man, he didn't exactly incite passion in me. He was more like a favorite pair of sweatpants that you looked forward to changing into after a long day, warm and comfortable.
With a sigh, I carefully unzipped the dress, replacing the envelope in the hidden pocket before slipping back into my clothes.
As the sales girl rang me up, I leaned on the counter, trying to keep my voice nonchalant. "I don't suppose you have the contact information of the person who brought this dress in?"
Her mouth pulled into a thoughtful moue. "I might have their phone number somewhere. I'm afraid I can't just give it out, though."
"There was an old letter in a pocket of the dress," I offered. "I was hoping to return it to its owner."
"Hm," she muttered, reaching under the counter and producing a ledger book. She flipped a few pages before shouting triumphantly, "Here we go. Four days ago, E. Cullen brought in several vintage dresses." She scribbled the number onto a scrap of paper and pressed it into my palm.
"Thanks," I replied, tucking the paper into my pocket. She beamed at me as I left the shop, eager to place what I hoped would be a well received phone call.
I had expected an older woman to answer the number I'd gotten from the vintage shop. Instead, the person who answered the phone sounded very young and very male. "E. Cullen?" I asked, flustered.
"Yes, this is Edward. Who is this?"
"Um. My name is Bella Swan. You don't know me -"
Before I could go any further, he cut me off. "If I don't know you, how did you get this number?"
"I bought a dress today -"
He interrupted me again. "I should care about your shopping habits, why?"
"Well, if you'd stop interrupting me, I'd be able to tell you!" I snapped at him. I paused for a moment, expecting another snide retort, but he kept quiet. Smart man. "As I was saying," I continued pointedly, "I bought a dress at a vintage shop today, and there was a personal letter in the pocket. I wanted to return it to its owner, and this is the number the girl at the shop gave me. If I have the wrong number, you can just say so without being so rude."
I heard him mutter, "Shit," softly, before he cleared his throat. "A letter?"
"Yes," I confirmed. "I read it, and it seemed like the kind of thing that its owner probably wouldn't want to lose."
He sighed heavily. "Yes, you're right. Can you bring it to 85 Magnolia Court at two this afternoon? I would meet you at a coffee shop or something, but I can't really get out of the house today."
"Sure," I conceded, slightly mollified by the apologetic tone of his voice. There was a moment of awkward silence before I realized he wasn't going to say anything else. "Ok, see you then. Bye." I rambled before hanging up. Hopefully he'd be nicer in person.
I rang the doorbell at two o'clock sharp, then smoothed my skirt anxiously. I'd decided to wear the dress to return the letter, feeling like it was symbolic and romantic, but now I was second-guessing my decision. Too late now, I suppose.
The door swung open, and my breath hitched. The man standing before me was incredibly handsome, if you ignored the scowl on his face. Startlingly green eyes regarded me warily from beneath heavy brows, the tension in his mouth doing nothing to detract from the fullness of his lips. He lifted a hand to scratch at the dark shadow of stubble scattered along his strong square jaw, then lifted it higher to run his fingers through the riotous mass of bronze hair on top of his head. A swirl of dark ink peeked out from beneath the sleeve of his t-shirt.
"Are you Bella?" he asked, breaking me out of my perusal of him.
I cleared my throat, before sticking my hand out in greeting. "Yes, I'm Bella Swan. Are you Edward?"
He eyed my hand, and I dropped it back to my side self-consciously; he smirked at my discomfort. "Yes, I'm Edward. Did you bring the letter?"
"Oh, right, yes. Here," I stammered, thrusting the envelope at him. He took it gingerly, slipping it into the back pocket of the well-worn jeans hanging low on his narrow hips.
I stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to do now that I had completed my mission. I'm not sure what I had expected, but this seemed so anticlimactic. Edward cleared his throat uncomfortably, before muttering, "Well...thanks," and moving to close the door.
"No problem," I offered weakly, turning to leave.
Just as my foot hit the top step, a musical voice called, "Edward, who is this woman, and why is she wearing my dress?"
I turned around slowly, once again shocked by the beauty of the person in front of me. A woman had joined Edward in the doorway, and if not for her silver hair, she could have passed for his older sister. Her bright blue eyes regarded me curiously, then she smiled broadly, waving off Edward's explanation.
"Never mind, I'd rather hear it from her. Come in and have a chat, dear?" Though she phrased it as a question, I had a feeling it wasn't actually a request. I nodded timidly, stepping into the house.
"Edward, be a dear and pull together some refreshments, will you? I'd like iced tea with lemon and," she paused, giving me a pointed look. I realized we hadn't been introduced, so I quickly offered my name. "Nice to meet you, Bella," she replied. "I'm Rosalie King. What would you like to drink?"
"Um. Iced tea with lemon is fine."
She nodded then turned back to Edward. "Two iced teas with lemon. And bring those blueberry scones, as well." With that, she turned and strode away. I scurried to follow her, but not before I heard Edward muttering about how she never offered him refreshments when he came over.
Rosalie led me into a spacious sun room and settled onto one of the plush sofas, gesturing for me to do the same. She regarded me silently for a moment before asking, "Well, Bella, forgive me for repeating myself, but why are you at my house wearing my old dress?"
As I explained how I'd come to be sitting in her sunroom, she pursed her lips thoughtfully, and when Edward entered the room carrying a tray, she eyed him appraisingly.
"Thank you, now get out. Go develop some pictures of something," she dismissed him. She turned to me and stage-whispered, "Just because he's had some pictures published in National Geographic, he thinks he's some hot-shot photographer. Pfft." He rolled his eyes at her, but dropped a kiss to her forehead. As he turned to leave, she snatched the envelope out of his back pocket, smiling triumphantly.
Her smile turned wistful as she considered the letter, and when she met my eyes again, hers shimmered with unshed tears.
"I was 19," she murmured. "We lived close to a military base, and one night my friends dragged me into town because basic training had just wrapped up and they wanted to find themselves a 'hot soldier'. I was seeing someone, but they insisted I join them."
"We were in a pub, and once my friends snagged their soldiers, I decided to head home. Just as I was leaving, I ran into this solid wall of man. He literally swept me off my feet."
"We ended up talking for hours. He begged to see me again, but I was hesitant, since I was already seeing someone. He wouldn't be dissuaded, though." She laughed a little, getting a faraway look in her eyes before shaking herself out of her reverie. "Anyway, suffice to say, I saw him again. And again, and again. We had a whirlwind love affair. He told me he loved me, and at the time, I thought that it was impossible. Looking back, though, I loved him, too."
"The day before my soldier was to ship out, my boyfriend, Royce, proposed. I didn't know what to do. I was so caught up in my soldier, but he was leaving for war. And my parents approved of Royce; he was the new shining star at the bank where Father worked. I didn't answer Royce right away, and my soldier begged me to wait for him, that he would marry me when he got back."
"I thought it would be easier once he'd left, out of sight out of mind, and all that, but it wasn't. He was constantly on my mind, and I kept putting Royce off. When I got this letter, it had been nearly a month. Royce was nearing the end of his patience, and my parents were beside themselves. They couldn't understand why I wouldn't just say yes. What could I tell them? That a man I'd known for less than a week held my heart, but he was currently in the middle of the war?"
She sighed and her face clouded over. "I was working at the newspaper at the time, and it was very convenient to keep tabs on what was going on around the world. One day, it came across the wires that my soldier's company had been ambushed, and all were presumed dead." Her voice broke on the last word, and she stopped, gazing out the window unseeingly for several long moments.
When she spoke, her voice was detached and faraway sounding. "I locked myself in my room for nearly a week, barely eating or sleeping as I grieved. Eventually, I tucked his letter in the dress I had been wearing when I met him, and put it into the back of my closet, along with that piece of my heart. I knew I had to move on with my life, so I dried my tears and agreed to marry Royce."
"Royce was a good man. We didn't have a passionate love story, but he never did wrong by me. He was more devoted to his work and his whiskey than his wife, and it led to a heart attack a few years ago. But, I could have done worse."
A few tears spilled out of my eyes, and she gave me a watery smile. "Can I offer you some hard-learned advice, dear? Never settle for 'good enough'. If you have a chance at an extraordinary love, grab hold of it with both hands and do whatever it takes to keep it. Extraordinary is worth fighting for."
I nodded, then stood to leave. "Thank you for sharing that with me. I have to get going, but I'm so glad I was able to return your letter."
She rose with me, walking me back to the front of the house. "Thank you for bringing it back and for listening to my story. I've only ever told Edward, and I've been keeping it locked up so tightly for so many years, it's freeing to let it go a little."
I paused at the door. "I just realized I don't even know your soldier's name. He just signed the letter as 'M', and you always called him your soldier. Will you tell me his name?"
Rosalie's eyes softened and her lips curled into a small, sad smile. "Mac. Emmett 'Mac' McCarty."
I'm not entirely sure what happened in the minutes after Rosalie revealed the name of her beloved soldier. I can't say for sure if I said good-bye, or just wandered off. I drove home on auto-pilot, and it wasn't until I was pulling into my driveway and saw Granddad sitting on the porch waiting for me that I snapped out of my fog.
"Bella, what happened? You look like you've seen a ghost," he asked as I approached. His eyes darted down, as if he were assessing me for injuries, and it was his turn to look like he'd seen a ghost. "Where did you get that dress?" he choked, his knuckles turning white where they gripped the arms of the chair.
Any doubt I'd had flew out the window at his reaction. "You're Rosalie's Mac?"
"Where did you get her dress?" he repeated.
"I needed a dress for Jasper's work party. I found this at a vintage shop, and there was a letter in the pocket. A love letter. From you."
He sighed and rubbed his hand over his mouth and jaw but didn't say anything, so I continued, explaining my visit with her and her story. By the time I finished, tears were in both of our eyes. "God, I loved that woman," he mused, staring off into the distance.
An idea bloomed in my mind. "Her, uh, husband passed on a few years ago..." His confused eyes met mine. "She still spoke quite fondly of you..." I trailed off, planting the seed, waiting for his response.
He quirked his lips into a sad half-smile and shook his head. "That's ancient history, sweetheart. I have no right to barge into her life a second time".
"No, Bella. Really. Let it be."
I sighed, but let the subject drop. For now.
"Edward, I need your help." Silence met my plea, so I pushed on. "Rosalie told me the story of her soldier, the one who wrote her the letter I returned." I paused again, waiting for any indication that this was going to be an actual conversation rather than me talking to dead air.
"Her soldier? Emmett McCarty? That's my Granddad."
He sighed into the phone. "And?"
"And I want to reunite them. I could tell Granddad still had feelings for her, and it seemed like Rosalie did, too."
"Are you insane?"
"No! Rosalie herself said that when you find extraordinary love, you should fight for it. Well, it certainly sounded like their love was extraordinary. I want my Granddad to be happy. Don't you want Rosalie to be happy?"
"Of course I do," he huffed indignantly. "But -"
"I just want them to see each other again. That's all. If, after that, they decide the past is best left in the past, so be it."
"What about your grandmother? She probably won't be too happy about her husband meeting up with a past flame."
"That old bat died ages ago," I huffed, trying to suppress the memories of the cold woman who had been the polar opposite of my spirited Granddad. We were back to silence, now.
Finally, another sigh came over the line. "Fine. What did you have in mind?" I couldn't help the grin that spread across my face as I relayed my plan.
"Girl, you're as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs," Granddad complained as we strolled through the park. "What's going on with you?"
"Me?" I asked, my voice squeaking unnaturally high. "I don't know what you mean."
"Mmm," he muttered, eyeing me suspiciously as I scanned the park again.
Where was Edward with Rosalie? He promised he'd be here!
Stupid, arrogant, uncooperative -
"Oh!" I exclaimed. "I see my friend over there. Come on, let's go say 'hi'." I tugged on Granddad's arm, leading him towards the bench where Edward sat with Rosalie.
"Edward!" I called as we approached. Both he and Rosalie turned at the sound of my greeting, and a warm smile lit Rosalie's face.
"Bella! What a pleasant... surprise..." she trailed off and her eyes widened as she took in the man standing next to me. "Mac?" she whispered incredulously.
Granddad stepped forward, a slow grin spreading across his face. "Rosie. Look at you. You are still the most captivating girl I have ever seen." I moved to stand next to Edward, smiling to myself as I watched the former flames reunite.
Rosalie stood to face Granddad, then lifted her hand, rearing back and striking him across the face, her palm connecting with his cheek with a sickening crack. "How dare you! I thought you were dead! Your squad was ambushed and everyone was dead. But obviously you're not. I loved you and you let me think you were dead! Why didn't you come back to me?" she screeched, collapsing onto the bench again at the end of her tirade.
Edward made a move towards Rosalie, but I stilled him with a hand on his arm. A frisson of energy shot up my arm where our skin met, but I couldn't focus on anything other than Granddad's gentle words as he lowered himself carefully to the bench.
"Rosie, I came back after I got out of the hospital. When I got here, I found you with a wedding band on your finger. I knew I couldn't upend your life, so I left." Rosalie buried her face in her hands, and Granddad hesitated for just a moment before he began to rub soothing circles on her back.
"Let's give them a moment," I murmured to Edward, tilting my head to indicate he should follow me. As we wandered down the path, I couldn't contain my satisfied grin when I glanced back and saw their heads close together, tentative smiles on their faces.
By the time we made it back, Granddad and Rosalie were beaming at each other, Granddad holding both of Rosalie's hands protectively between his. Rosalie glanced up, then pointed an accusing finger at us, smiling widely. "You two set this up."
"Yep," I agreed, grinning unrepentantly. My breath whooshed out of me as she swooped me into a tight hug.
"Thank you, sweet girl," she whispered into my ear, giving me one last squeeze before releasing me.
"I would like very much if you would allow me to call on you," Granddad said softly as he rose from the bench.
Rosalie's blushed prettily as she nodded. "I would like that, too," she murmured. Then her eyes narrowed shrewdly and a devilish smirk quirked her lips. "However," she drawled. "In my day it wasn't appropriate for a lady to be left alone with a man, so we'll need chaperones. Since these two like to meddle, I think they'll be perfect."
"Fine by me," I agreed.
I cut my eyes over to Edward, who was glowering at Rosalie. He opened his mouth, I assume to protest, but she stopped him with an icy glare. "Fine," he growled, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Bella, what's the matter?"
Warm green eyes gazed down at me where I lay curled up on a chaise in Rosalie's library.
"Liar," Edward chastised gently, settling next to me.
I sighed and pushed my feet against his thigh in a half-hearted kick. "Shouldn't you be off packing for your next grand adventure?" I deflected. He was due to fly out on Monday for an assignment in Patagonia.
"I've packed for trips like this a thousand times, it's no big deal," he shrugged. "Seriously, what's your deal? Trouble in paradise?"
I snorted, because he and Granddad were of the same mind when it came to Jasper. Edward had only met him once, but Jasper had apparently not impressed him. When Edward had expressed that sentiment to Granddad, Granddad was all too happy to expound on what he felt were Jasper's shortcomings, and Edward just ate it up.
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes. No. I don't know," I muttered, burying my face in my arms.
"Hey, easy. I was just teasing," he murmured. "It must be something bad if it's got you this torn up?" Heat shot through me as he placed his palm on my back, sending sparks skittering throughout my body.
It had been easy to fight my attraction to Edward when he was an arrogant jerk, but as we spent more time together while Rosalie and Granddad had their visits, he softened towards me and showed me how sweet and loyal he really was, and now it was nearly impossible to ignore.
Couple that with the way he and Granddad pointed out things about Jasper that I'd been trying to overlook, and I was feeling less and less sure that staying with Jasper was a good idea.
Which is why I couldn't decide how to answer Edward's question.
"Jasper proposed last night," I sighed.
Edward's hand froze on my back. "And, ah..." he rasped. "What did you... say?"
"I told him I needed to think about it."
I turned my head towards him, my eyes begging him not to make me answer that question. His piercing gaze swept over me, and I was sure everything I was feeling was written on my face as he studied me.
Suddenly his lips were on mine, soft and warm and so, so sweet. He was tentative at first, but when I threaded my fingers into the silky hair at the nape of his neck and pressed my lips more firmly against his, his hesitation vanished.
Edward's kiss was possessive, consuming, exactly what I'd pictured when I'd allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to give in to my desires. Then the realization of what I was doing seeped in, piercing me with icy slivers of guilt.
The hands I had been using to draw him closer turned to push him away, breaking our connection. "Edward," I choked. "I can't."
"You can," he insisted. "We can."
"You're leaving. Jasper wants to marry me. I just..."
"Bella - "
I was pushing up and off the chaise before he could say more. My sudden departure startled him, and I was nearly to the door before he even was able to call after me. But by then, I was pushing past a confused Rosalie and Granddad, out the front door, and to my car.
I watched in my rearview mirror as Edward skidded to a stop on the porch, and even though I couldn't see his face, the slump of his shoulders just drove the knife in my heart that much deeper.
I holed up in my townhouse for the rest of the weekend, ignoring the ringing phone, wallowing in my confusion.
My head was telling me I should agree to marry Jasper. After all, we'd been together a while, and on paper he was perfect: he was well educated, had a steady job with Dad's law firm, and he was very kind.
But then my heart got into the mix and reminded me that he was also boring, and uptight, and I had never felt anything with him remotely like what that I'd felt in that kiss from Edward.
I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes until colors bloomed behind my eyelids, then stood up, deciding a glass or three of wine would be the best way to solve my problems. As I crossed my living room, I noticed an envelope sitting on the floor of my foyer.
My name was written in elegant script on the front, but there were no other markings to indicate where it was from. Opening the flap carefully, I slipped the single sheet of stationery out of the envelope.
My sweet Bella,
I thought my life was perfect, that I had exactly what I'd always wanted. And then the most extraordinary thing happened: you whirled into my life, and turned everything upside down.
It was the best thing to ever happen to me.
I hadn't even realized how lonely and gray my life had become. But now I know, because you have brought warmth and laughter and color and light to me, and I know I can never go back. It's as if I were Dorothy in Kansas, and you hurtled me into Oz.
I will be back in two weeks. I'm hoping, selfishly, that I can convince you to wait until I return so I can try to persuade you in person. I know I have no business asking this of you, but please, do not agree to marry Jasper, not until I've had my chance to prove to you how extraordinary we can be together.
If I have learned anything from Rosalie, it's that when you find something extraordinary, you need to fight for it.
You are extraordinary, and I am fighting for you.
I swiped the tears that had trailed down my cheeks as I read his words, and took a deep breath. I knew what I had to do.
I hurried through the park, my eyes scanning frantically around me. Where are they? They have to be here.
On the path ahead of me were Rosalie and Granddad. Behind them, with his hands buried deep in his pockets, looking like a man who'd lost the most important thing in his life, was Edward.
I rushed forward, trying not to stumble on the uneven ground.
He lifted his head and looked around. When his eyes landed on me, his eyebrows shot towards his hairline and he looked like he couldn't decide if he should smile or not.
I launched myself at him, and his arms automatically lifted to catch me as his eyes widened in shock. "Wha?" was all he managed to get out before I tugged his mouth down to mine.
At first his lips were stiff with surprise, but as I continued my assault, he softened and then, with a groan, gave in and kissed me back.
Suddenly, he pulled away. I whined in protest but he wouldn't be deterred.
"What... I mean... you... Jasper?"
I shook my head at him. "I got your letter. After that, I knew... I gave Jasper back his ring. I'm willing to try for extraordinary," I murmured. The words had just barely passed my lips before his mouth was claiming mine again, hard and insistent. I returned his kiss just as fervently.
Slowly, our surroundings seeped into my consciousness, and I could hear Granddad and Rosalie laughing and clapping. I grudgingly pulled away, though I stayed nestled against Edward's chest.
"Told you it would work," Granddad chuckled.
"You helped?" I asked incredulously.
Granddad just grinned at me. "You meddled in my love life, so I figured what was good for the goose was good for the gander. You complaining?"
"Actually, I think I owe you."
"I'd say we're even," he argued, drawing Rosalie close.
"Thank you, Granddad," I murmured, nuzzling against Edward again. His arms tightened around me and he pressed a kiss to the top of my head.
As we began walking again, I smiled to myself. Who'd have thought a dress could change the course of my life?
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