A/N: hey everyone! Sorry this chapter has taken so long, I've been unbelievably busy lately! This chapter is sweet and to the point, and next chapter will be the epilogue! :( I will miss writing this story so much!
Here is a summary of the next story I have in mind… lemme know what you think!:
Edward Cullen has always been in love with his best friend, Bella Swan. When a new student in town shows interest in Bella, she turns to Edward for help to show her how to be the perfect girlfriend. Will this finally be his chance to show Bella how he truly feels?
I couldn't help the smile that was plastered on my face while I finished wrapping everyone's Christmas presents. I truly could not believe the turn that my life has taken.
It has been one month since I was found at the cabin. This month has been emotionally difficult, yet spiritually progressive. I've used every flashback and nightmare regarding the abuse I endured from Phil and Jacob to fuel my self-esteem and empowerment. It took a lot of focusing and determination, but I am slowly pulling myself out of the black hole that my mind used to be. With the help of those around me, I'm learning what it's like to be happy again. The feeling is tremendous and so very freeing.
I began working at the library last week. It's truly a lot of fun and very rewarding to put work into something and actually receive gratuity in return. My boss is sweet and kind, and we often find ourselves discussing different books rather than stocking shelves and reorganizing.
Laurent is awaiting his trial. He was charged with kidnapping and harboring a fugitive, and is sitting in jail until court begins. I'm not looking forward to testifying, but I know the case will be won easily. The evidence against him is rather large, and I was promised he does not stand a chance.
One of the best parts of Phil's death was not even the fact that he can never hurt me again, but the discovery that was made: my mother left behind a great deal of money because of her life insurance policy. She wrote in her will that it would be put in Phil's hands, since she trusted him with taking care of me. I don't blame her, since he was perfectly normal before her death. Now, since he is gone, the money is mine. It was a pretty fair amount, and I stored it in a savings account that I promised myself I would not touch unless it was an emergency. However, I did allow myself to spoil my loved ones for Christmas with some of the money. They've done so much for me the past few months, so it is the very least I could do.
A knock on my door frame interrupted my thoughts. I glanced up to see my personal Greek God leaning against the wall with a smirk on his face. "Are those all for me?" He teased, gesturing with his chin to all the presents spread around my bedroom floor.
"No, they're for Alice," I joked as he waltzed into the room and sat directly behind me, wrapping his arms around my frame and pulling me backwards against his chest. I sighed in sheer contentment as he plopped a kiss onto the top of my head.
"Remember what I said, Edward: I'll be pissed if you spent too much on me." Tomorrow is Christmas and I have a very uneasy feeling in my stomach that is telling me that Edward went overboard. His love for spoiling me is something I would never get used to, especially since nobody besides him and his family/friends has cared about me in a few years.
"Love, it's our first Christmas together. Must you always be so difficult?" I could hear the crooked smile in his velvety voice.
"I thought you liked that I'm stubborn."
"Not when it comes to spoiling you rotten."
I turned in his arms a bit so I could see his face. "I don't need anything other than you."
He smiled and leaned in for an innocent kiss that - very quickly - turned heated. We haven't been physical at all since my return home: nothing more than a heavy makeout session. Edward has been absolutely great about it. Actually, he's usually the one to stop us when we get a little too hot and heavy. He's terrified of pushing me too far, because he knows how easy it is for me to have flashbacks that force me back into that black hole. He's always so tender and understanding, and it truly kills me that I cannot give him everything he needs.
Habitually, he pulled away once our tongues grew tired of fighting one another's. "You're intoxicating, baby. It's so hard to control myself sometimes," he muttered close to my ear.
"I'm getting better. One day, soon, we can try again." I knew that right now would only be disastrous, since thoughts of Jacob's hands on my body still plague me now and again.
"Not until you're absolutely positive, Bella. We have forever together - there's no rush."
I smiled and kissed his cheek. "Forever."
"It's Christmas! Get your ass up, bitch!" Alice's mighty voice dragged me from the beautiful sleep I was spending in Edward's arms the next morning. I cracked an eye open to see her face a mere few inches from mine, her blue eyes brighter than the sun.
"I should have warned you last night. She does this every year," Edward's raspy voice, still so beautifully-filled with sleep, mumbled groggily into the pillow beside my head. I smirked and snuggled deeper into his arms. "We'll be down in 5 minutes. I promise."
She huffed, but climbed off my bed and pranced downstairs gracefully.
"Mmm, Merry Christmas, love," Edward's voice was a gentle caress in my ear. I sighed and kissed his chiseled chest.
"This is already the best Christmas ever, and it's only 7:30 AM."
I giggled, his words elating me. "She really does this every year?"
He nodded. "Sometimes I forget that you don't have any siblings. I would consider yourself lucky."
I slapped his chest playfully before offering him a chaste kiss. "Let's go downstairs before she has a severe conniption."
The entire living room was overflowing with gifts for everybody. Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper were coming over later tonight to exchange presents, once they were finished with their own family parties. Alice already made it her duty to separate the gifts into piles for everyone. She instructed everyone to sit in front of their own pile of presents. Esme waltzed into the room with a tray of her homemade peppermint hot chocolate, and I could immediately feel my mouth water at the sweet smell. Carlisle found "A Christmas Story" on TV and put it on in the background. I chuckled at his genuine laugh as he watched the movie.
"I'm going first!" Alice declared, opening up a present from Carlisle. It was a new pack of art pencils for sketching designs. Alice was seriously considering a career in fashion, so she was signing up to take art classes next semester in order to gain some more skill. It made me so proud to watch her pursue something that truly brought a smile to her face and even more pep in her spunky step.
We took turns opening gifts from Carlisle and Esme. Edward got more sweatshirts and a new pair of sneakers, a radio for his car, and some sort of video game he's been playing lately with Jasper and Emmett. Alice also received some diamond earrings, a new big blanket for her bed that looked heavenly and a few expensive-looking makeup palettes that consisted of God-only-knows-what.
Before I even began opening the gifts, Carlisle and Esme informed me that my main gift was not currently in the room. While trying to figure out what that meant; they ushered me to open the other gift first. I tore the paper open hastily, earning myself a paper cut: great. Edward chuckled teasingly while fetching me a bandaid. After that fiasco, I was finally able to see the first present I've received in years: a photo of Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Edward and I on Thanksgiving. We stood in front of the fireplace, each of us in a fit of laughter over something Oliver had done. Edward's Grandpa snapped the photo at the perfect moment. The frame that housed the picture was a deep brown wood with the word "family" engraved at the bottom in a neat cursive.
"It's… perfect," I breathed, gently running my finger along the wood. These people truly meant the world to me, and I owed them my entire life. "I love it."
"Would you like to go see your next present? It's also from Edward. It was his idea," Esme smiled with warmth radiating from her eyes.
"Sure, I'm excited!"
The 4 of them led me into the garage, where the sight in front of me caused my jaw to drop and my heart to skip numerous beats. I couldn't control the grin that spread across my face like a wildfire.
In front of me was a tiny, russet-colored Goldendoodle puppy playing with a blue bone. He pranced clumsily to Esme and plopped onto her feet happily. He was so fucking adorable. There was no other way to put it.
"You… got me a puppy?" I croaked in disbelief as the dog ran up to me upon hearing my voice. I bent down and scooped him easily into my arms, clutching him tightly against my chest. He nuzzled his tiny face into my neck and licked me a few times. I squealed happily.
"I see how often you look at pictures and videos of dogs on your laptop, Bella. Especially goldendoodles. We knew he would make you happy, along with the rest of us, too."
"Where did you get him?! Thank you so much! When did you get him?! I can't believe this!" I had word-vomit, but i couldn't find it in me to care. I never really spent too much time with dogs before, but playing with Oliver on Thanksgiving completely forced me to fall in love with them. Their little personalities and fiercely loving qualities had me hooked.
"I didn't actually work yesterday. I drove to Seattle to get him from a friend of ours that breeds dogs," Carlisle informed with a gleam in his eye. The Cullen's were so giving that I couldn't even feel uncomfortable with the fact that their gift to me was so extravagant. I knew they were the type of people that found happiness in spoiling ones they loved.
"We're so glad he didn't bark in here all night. I really didn't want you to hear him," Esme snickered.
"He's perfect. What's his name?" I asked as I set the dog down so he could continue his assault on the poor blue bone.
"We left that up to you to decide," Alice said with a smile.
"Let's bring him inside so he can get acquainted with the house while you decide," Edward suggested.
The puppy was having a blast diving in and out of the used wrapping paper that littered the living room. I watched with warmth in my heart as he played so innocently, a genuine look of happiness in his eyes. I was smitten.
I decided right then and there to pay tribute to Mom by naming my puppy the name she always wanted to give to the dog that Phil wouldn't allow her to have. "I want to name him Leo." I didn't need to explain that it was because Mom used to harbor a sick obsession with Leonardo DiCaprio.
"That's so cute! Come here, little Leo!" Alice chimed loudly, causing Leo to perk his ears in confusion.
We waited for Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper to arrive to open the rest of the gifts. Edward, Alice and I spent the time chasing Leo around the house and potty-training him. He was already bringing so much happiness and laughter to my life. I was terribly excited for the years to come.
Finally, the 3 amigos burst through the doors with huge smiles showcased on their faces. "Merry Christmas!" They chimed in perfect unison.
I decided to just rip off the bandaid and suggest everyone opens my gifts to them first. I was nervous and wanted to get it out of the way immediately. I feared that they would not love my gifts.
"Belly! This is awesome!" Emmett's boisterous voice echoed throughout the giant home as he expected the new tool kit I got for him. I noticed his was falling apart and he complained that it caused him to lose some of his necessities. I know how much he loves to work on cars, so I figured it would be perfect.
Jasper was particularly interested in the Civil War, constantly reading new novels about the events that took place during that time. I had to sneak into his bedroom one day and write down a list of the books he already has. I put together a stack of 5 of the best-rated Civil War novels - that he doesn't already own - for him.
"Bella, this is amazing! Thanks so much," he beamed with happiness in his eyes before he immediately began reading the backs of each book. I smiled widely, enjoying the fact that my gifts seemed to be a hit so far.
Rosalie was next. She smirked at me while she unwrapped the tiny box, ripping the green and red paper in a haste. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head when she saw the emerald studded earrings nestled in the box. Emerald was her birthstone, and Emmett had gotten her an emerald ring one year for her birthday. I figured the ring needed some matching friends.
"Bella," she breathed in astonishment. "These are gorgeous."
Alice squealed in excitement when I handed her the envelope that contained her gift.
"AHHHH!" She screamed when she opened the envelope and read the tickets. "We're going to see BEYONCÉ?!"
I giggled as she hugged me tightly. Alice and I were the only ones who held admiration for Beyoncé, so I figured it would be a memorable event for the both of us. The tickets were pricey, and the concert wasn't for another year, but it was all worth it for the smile on my best friend's face.
My gifts to Carlisle and Esme were presented to them in an envelope as well. I decided it would be easier to explain what was inside. "There's an antique car show in Seattle the first weekend of April. I thought you guys would like to go, so I got you a hotel down the street. In the envelope is your reservation for the hotel, as well as tickets to the hotel's couple's spa."
"This is perfect, dear! A relaxing weekend away from you brats, just what we need!" Esme teases as she hopped up to plant a kiss on my cheek. "Thank you, Bella. We're so happy you're a part of this family."
"I'm truly very happy with this gift, Bella. I wanted to go to that car show, but planning for it can be a pain. Thank you," Carlisle wrapped his arm around my shoulder and squeezed it in affection. I blushed and glanced down at my feet in embarrassment.
"Edward, your gift is in the guest room," I informed him, my heart beginning to pound within me. His gift was the one I was most nervous about.
He grinned crookedly before grabbing my hand and following me up the staircase. I took a deep breath before opening the door to the guest room.
Edward's eyes were wide, his jaw hanging open as he glanced at the black piano I had purchased for him.
"I know you said you've always wanted to learn to play, but never really found the chance. Well, here's your chance," I said quietly.
I watched as his slim finger ran across the top of the piano in a delicate motion. His eyes were wild with excitement, his smile so bright that it lit up my world - per usual.
I seriously lived for that feeling. The feeling when knowing that the perfect smile on Edward's face was because of me. I'll gladly spend the rest of my life doing anything I can to make him feel special, because that's what he is. Unique, wonderful, and special.
I wanted nothing more than for him to follow his passions and dreams, so I will do anything in my power to help make it happen. I knew he always wished to play piano, so I grabbed the opportunity when it presented itself.
"Baby," he whispered in awe. "This is… amazing. You're perfect, Bella, so fucking perfect. Thank you," he kissed me passionately, his smooth hands cupping my face as I smiled against the softness of his lips.
"You're gonna be great at playing," I hypothesized with confidence.
"You should learn, too! It can be a new project of ours," he winked before kissing my forehead.
"Sounds good. I have a feeling you'll get the hang of it before me, so you'll be teaching me."
"Don't be so hard on yourself," he chuckled.
The rest of the day was just as miraculous as the beginning. I received so many thoughtful gifts from these amazing people. Emmett got me a Bluetooth speaker for my room so I could listen to music. It was insanely loud, just like him.
Jasper presented me with a full collection of Jane Austen's best works, which I clutched tightly to my chest. Leave it to Jasper and I to get each other books.
Rosalie's gift for me was simple, but definitely perfect for me. Some of my favorite scented candles by Yankee, as well as some in-scents for my bedroom. She seemed to notice my new obsession for making my bedroom smell delightful.
Alice, of course, bought me an endless amount of clothes. I didn't expect anything else, obviously. Still, everything fit perfectly and looked great. I was so lucky to have her.
Carlisle and Esme bought me a scrapbook for pictures that we would surely be taking In the future as a gang. I couldn't believe they got me that, considering they got me a fucking puppy.
Since Edward all chipped in for the puppy, I wasn't expecting him to get me anything else. Of course, I was wrong. He presented me with a heart-shaped diamond locket. One end of it was a picture of me and my mother when i was about 4 Years old. The other side held a picture of Edward and I from a few weeks ago, cuddled up on the couch. I felt tears well in my eyes when I gazed at the beautiful piece of jewelry that was home to photos of my 2 favorite people.
"Edward, this is wonderful," I whispered before crashing my lips to his.
And, it really was wonderful. Everything about this day and these people was just absolutely wonderful.