For those of you who read the Get Your Southern On contest entries, this is my contribution. I am tickled at the results … first place in public vote and third place for the judge's choice. I've decided to break this up into smaller, drabblish chapters and it will be continued. The contest contribution is the first six or so chapters, roughly. I don't know how long it will be, but I do have it planned. Thank you to Bridget for betaing this for me and for Clo, who created the banner.
Anyhow, we're going to have some kid cuteness with Bella and them bonding as mother/children. They're going to go shopping for Christmas decorations and Christmas presents for Edward. And Edward is going to work on getting his happily ever after, ensuring that Bella would never be the one that got away.
The next day, after eating a home-cooked breakfast and taking home enough leftovers to feed an army, Edward, Bella and the twins went shopping to get Christmas decorations for their home. It was going to be an expensive endeavor. Edward had some ornaments from the twins and from his own childhood, but no tree or holiday décor. In craft store, they decided to split up. Liam and Edward were going to focus on the outdoor decorations, while Bella and Lucy would find a tree and interior decorations.
Edward and Liam figured on staying classic with getting white lights, tasteful illuminated sculptures and garland to hang around the front door. Bella and Lucy decided to have a tree in the living room, using a tropical, beachy theme for their Christmas décor. It would have traditional elements, but fit the light, airy feel to the house. Lucy also suggested that each one of them would get a small tree for their room. Lucy chose a tree with purple decorations and white lights, while Bella chose a smaller traditional tree for her and Edward's room. When they met up with Edward and Liam, they told them about the individual trees. Liam asked if he could have a ceramic tree, like the one that Nana had in the front table at their house. Unable to find one, Edward called his mother and she graciously said that she'd gladly relinquish her tree to give to her grandson for his bedroom.
Loading up their purchases into both SUVs, they drove back to their house. Edward stopped with Liam to pick up the ceramic tree and they began unpacking their decorations from the bags and boxes that were in the basement. Once Edward helped set up the tree inside, Lucy and Bella set about to put on the lights while Liam helped his father outside, bedecking every solid, unmoving surface with twinkling LED lights in front of the house. While they ate lunch together, Edward called his eye doctor, making an appointment for Bella. She smiled gratefully, kissing his cheek.
After lunch, Edward sent Liam inside to work with his mother and sister. He needed to get up on the ladder and didn't want his son to see him freak out. Edward hated heights.
With. A. Passion.
Inside, Bella had on a holiday mix from satellite radio and she was singing along with the kids. They were hanging ornaments on the tree that had been purchased at the craft store, along with the heirlooms that Edward had in the basement. The tree was taking shape and it was looking amazing, special and Christmasy. An hour later, a disgruntled Edward came back inside. "Everything okay, baby?" Bella asked.
"Heights … yeah, no," he snorted. "I'll get our landscapers to get them down in the spring. No way in fucking hell I'm going back up there again."
"Are they up now, Dad?" Liam asked.
"They're up. Almost broke my damn neck, but they're up, Lee," Edward said, ruffling his son's hair and trying to had his trembling hands. Heights … no, thank you. "I have them set on a timer. They'll turn on automatically at six. We've got a few hours before we can see the outside. Let's focus on the inside."
"Daddy, can you help with the garland around the fireplace?" Lucy asked.
"Let me get my coat off and then I'll be happy to help," Edward said, shrugging out of his fleece. He swiped a soda, sipping it and helped his family decorate their home. He worked with Lucy, putting the garland on the mantle along with the shell Christmas trees and starfish accents.
"What about the angel for the top of the tree?" Liam asked as he was working on some candle thing on the sofa table in the living room. "We couldn't find it."
"Nana made me keep it in a safe place," Edward chuckled softly. He darted upstairs and found the lace angel with rhinestone halo surrounding her head. He went downstairs and looked at the tree. Even without knowing it, the tree matched the angel and it would be the perfect topper for their Christmas decorations. "Lucy, come here, sweet girl." Lucy skipped over to him. "Hold this."
"What if I break it, Daddy?" she whispered.
"You won't," he said, lifting her onto his shoulders and walking her to the tree. Bella was snapping pictures, clumsily, with Edward's phone. Lucy smiled as Edward held her in place, putting the angel on top of the tree. Bella took a picture of Edward and the twins in front of the tree. Edward did the same for Bella and he awkwardly held out the phone so they could do a family selfie.
Eating leftovers from Thanksgiving, they took a break from decorating for the night, after they saw the decorations from the outside. It was perfect, they still needed to some finishing touches. That would happen the next day, after a good night's sleep.
They curled up, watching several holiday family favorites. Liam chose the original Grinch – the animated one, not the Jim Carrey movie. Lucy wanted to watch Rudolph and Frosty. The movies ended and the twins went upstairs, tired from all the activity of the day. Tucking them in and kissing cheeks and whispers of love, Edward and Bella went back downstairs. "Do you want to watch Love, Actually?" Edward asked. "It's one of my favorite holiday movies."
"It's one of mine, too," Bella said. "I'm sorry about crashing yesterday. I was just exhausted yesterday."
"You're still healing," Edward chuckled, pulling up Netflix on his cable box and ordering the movie. "How's your head?"
"It's not as bad as yesterday. My wrist is bothering me more," she said, shifting her arm and scratching just above her cast. "It itches."
"Don't scratch it," he snickered. "You're getting a new cast next week."
"Or a brace," she replied. "I'm hoping for a brace. I want to start physical therapy. I miss being able to use my hand. I feel so useless. And I want to write."
"You can write, sweetness," Edward said.
"Typing with one hand is not easy and my handwriting is illegible," Bella grumbled, her nose wrinkled. "I've got ideas rolling around in my head. Maybe that's a side effect of getting my brain scrambled." Looking over at him, she ran her left hand through his shaggy mop. "You need a haircut, baby."
"On Monday, while you're at your eye appointment," he said. "I can almost pull it into a ponytail." He gathered it and made little tail at the nape of his neck. He pulled Bella to his side, starting the movie.
"Are you okay, Edward?" Bella blurted. "I mean … really okay? I know you've been focused on my healing, but you were hurt irrevocably with Tanya. What she did …"
"When I found out, I felt an emptiness inside. I'm working with that therapist that Charlie suggested. Kelli's great and she's helping me rebuild the trust that I lost. You said yourself, I'm getting better," he chuckled. "Am I afraid that you're going to do the same to me?"
"You know I wouldn't, Edward," Bella said, sitting up and her head spun. She kept her eyes on his, her brows furrowed and puckered. "I could never betray you that way, baby. The thought … it makes my stomach turn."
"I know you wouldn't. However, my trust was breached. I trust you. I love you. I know you would never hurt me in that way. I still want you," he chuckled. "I still wake up with a painful erection when you're draped across me."
"I'm sorry," Bella muttered.
"Don't be," he said, kissing her lips. "I guess I just need to feel like I'm in control."
"Domward might be coming out to play? When we make love again?" Bella quipped, but shook her head. "Never mind. That was a stupid comment. I shouldn't have …"
"You wouldn't mind?" Edward asked meekly. She shook her head. He tucked her to his side, leaning his cheek against her soft hair. "I don't know how or when we'll be able to make love. A lot of it is due to your injuries. Your head is still hurting and your wrist is … I want it to be perfect, Bella. I miss you. I miss being inside you, but right now? I'm afraid that I'm going to remember what she did and it'll taint what we have."
"I think we both need to talk to Kelli," Bella suggested. "She may be able to provide insight on how to move past this. To heal each other as a couple. It happened years ago, but the fact your choice was taken away was sickening. She hurt you and I hate her for it."
"Me, too," Edward growled. "One thing hasn't changed, Bella. I adore you and have adored you for years. I'm not going to let my psycho ex-wife take that away from me. I love you. I will always love you. This whole situation will make us stronger as a couple. We're already stronger as a family. The twins see you as their mother and I know that you are their mother. You've accepted them, loved them, unconditionally. You protected our baby girl, at the risk of your own health."
"I wasn't about to let that harpy touch our child," Bella snarled. "I'm glad she got what she deserved. Though, she deserved worse. Much worse."
"Agreed," Edward snorted. "But, no more talk of this. I want to hold you, watch the movie and enjoy the time with you."
"Kay," Bella nodded, curling up against his side.
xx TOTGA xx
The kids went back to school on Monday and Edward took Bella to the eye doctor. She was nearsighted and got a pair of chic glasses. While she worked with the optometrist, Edward got a haircut.
The week went by quickly. Bella had another appointment with her orthopedic surgeon. Her wrist was healing well and the doctor removed the cast, putting her arm in a brace. She began her physical therapy and with the new-found freedom, she began outlining a new story, a new story based on the mafia: Married to the Mob.
Life was beginning to settle into a new normal and they were healing, attending family counseling sessions and individual sessions, as well. A couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, Bella was taking the twins shopping. They wanted to go shopping for Christmas presents and pick out things for their teachers, and their father.
"Where do we want to go?" Bella asked, starting the car and backing out on a dreary Saturday morning.
Edward was working out, using some of his pent-up energy to work off some extra weight he claimed he gained. Bella thought he was crazy, but he was working out his frustrations from the drama in their lives and he was using a punching bag and treadmill as his tools. Bella, once she was free of her brace and medically cleared from Dr. Wells and her orthopedic surgeon, would probably join him.
He wasn't the only one who had 'gained weight.'
"The mall?" Lucy asked.
"Not the mall," Liam grumbled. "Nana took us to the mall on Tuesday and it was absolutely packed, Mom. Ugh!"
"It might not be as bad," Bella shrugged.
"It's the weekend," Liam snorted. "It'll probably be worse."
"Good point," Bella snickered. "Well, let's think about what we want and we can narrow where we can go. Teachers?"
"Gift cards," Lucy suggested. "Miss Archer loves Starbucks. She always has a cup of Starbucks on her desk."
"What about your teacher, Liam?" Bella asked. "What does Mrs. Casey like?"
"She uses lotion and hand sanitizer like it's going out of style," Liam chuckled. "We're on our sixth bottle, one of those huge ones, of hand sanitizer."
"I think I know where to go," Bella smiled, driving them to a strip mall. It had a Starbucks at the end and a shop with homemade lotions, natural soaps and organic makeup. There was also a smaller gift shop, with high-end gifts for teachers, nurses, doctors and other professions, personalized for each person. The strip mall was perfect for them. They picked out a Starbucks gift basket for Miss Archer, along with a gift card. For Mrs. Casey, Liam picked a vanilla sandalwood gift basket, with lotion, body wash and organic hand sanitizer from the shop next to the Starbucks. In the gift shop, they found some small teacher sculptures for their teachers.
"Mom, what about this for Dad?" Liam said, pointing to a simple sculpture of a father holding two children. "It's us."
"No, Lee. We need a whole family," Lucy retorted, gesturing to a family sculpture. "It's not just Daddy anymore. We have a mom now." Lucy looked up at Bella. "Can we get this for Dad?" She pointed to a figurine that was a whole family, with mother, father and two children.
"I think he'll love it," Bella beamed, taking the figurine and paying for it, asking for a box. She signed the credit slip and they went back into the car, heading to a late lunch at a local taco joint, meeting Charlie. He shot up, hugging Bella and crouching down the kids' level.
"Hi, Gramps," they chirped, hugging him. "Did you work today? Catching the bad guys?"
"I work tonight," he laughed, "and I make sure that my cops catch the bad guys. It's the nice thing about being the chief."
They settled into the booth and ordered meals. The twins yammered about their Christmas program and invited 'Gramps' to the show. Lucy said she had a solo and Liam had a speaking role. It was scheduled for the week before their winter break and Gramps had to come, along with Miss Sue. Lucy also asked if Seth, Sue's son and the lead detective on their case, could come. She had stars in her eyes when she mentioned Seth. She had a huge crush on him. Bella didn't blame her. Seth was adorable, in a cute, puppy way. He was tall, handsome and sweet to her children. Charlie agreed to come, and would pass along the invitation to Sue and Seth. Though, he wasn't sure about their attendance.
With hugs and kisses, Charlie headed off toward the station. Bella drove back to the house, needing an ibuprofen because her head was hurting. Once they got back, Lucy went to go play with the girl across the street. Liam was picked up by Hunter and his dad, heading to indoor soccer practice. Edward was home, reading a medical journal and listening to music with the fire blazing in in the fireplace. Bella took the bags, placing them next to the tree and collapsed on the couch. "How was the workout?"
"Good," Edward said, sliding his arm around her waist and tugging her onto his lap. "Did Liam and Lucy behave for you?"
"They were angels," Bella giggled. "Charlie says hello."
"I saw him at the gym. He was my sparring partner," Edward smirked, kissing Bella's neck. "Your dad is quite the fighter. He got a few jabs in."
"Are you okay?" Bella asked, wiggling in his arms.
"Sweetness, I'm perfectly fine," he replied, cupping her face. Bella pursed her lips and he brushed his mouth against hers. She sighed, melting against him and tangling her fingers into his hair. He eased his tongue between her lips and they made out heavily, like teenagers, ending up on the couch with their legs and arms tangled. They broke away when the door slammed open and Lucy ran inside with her friend. They pounded up the stairs, girlish giggles and squeals. Edward sighed, his fingers playing with her ponytail. "We need some time alone, Bella. I love our children, but I miss you."
"I miss you, too, but are you ready?" she asked.
"Not yet, but I think soon. And I want to explore you … us … I really miss that intimacy," he smiled crookedly. Like Christmas? After I propose?
A/N: Up next will be Edward's turn shopping with the twins and the holiday program. We'll also lead up to Christmas. I am still debating on the ring. It's been whittled down to three options, but I need to figure out which one works the best for the story. But, I have the ending planned. I just need to get there.
Thanks for reading! :-)