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December 25

Christmas Day

Our morning starts off with one word.


After the morning light shines in waking me up from the couch, I immediately sit up checking my phone. We are running an hour late. We should have been gone by now. Crap. I shake Edward awake making him aware that we are running late which ensues the chaos that is our morning as we rush to get out the door.

The four hour drive isn't too bad, I am able to sleep a bit more since Edward insists he's fine. By the time we get to Forks, it's already eleven. I feel like it will probably be better if we stop at the store before going to Charlie's since I am running late. But with Edwards help, I am able to find everything I need for the dinner with good timing. On the way out, we run into best friend Jacob and my step-sister Leah, who's been married for two years.

"Bella, how are you?" Jake wraps me in a hug.

"I'm doing great, and you?"

"Fantastic! We are going to have a baby." I look at Leah as she beams and Jake gives her a kiss.

"Wow, I'm so happy for you! I'm going to have a niece!" I look at Edward smiling. He smiles back but he looks so confused. "How far along are you?"

"Twelve weeks." She rubs her belly while casting Edward wondering glances. Then it hits me that I haven't introduced them yet.

"I'm sorry, this is Edward Cullen. My boyfriend."

He wraps an arm around me and reaches to shake both of theirs. "Nice to meet you."

"You too." Leah smiles then mouths to me. "So cute!"

I nod grinning and mouth. "I know!"

"So Bella, have you heard about Jared and Kim?" Jake asks casually.

My body stiffens automatically. "Nope."

Leah elbows Jake. "Sorry Bella."

I shrug relaxing. "It's fine. Doesn't bother me anymore. So, what about them?"

Edward keeps glancing between us and I know he's got to be wondering what's going on but I hope he'll wait till we are in the car to ask me.

"They're getting married." Leah says hesitantly.

"Oh, good for them."

"After the birth of their little boy." She finishes with a grimace.

I wait for the old feelings of rejection and mortification that comes at the mention of his name but there isn't any. "I hope they're happy." I smile back at Jake and Leah. They seem surprised.

"It really doesn't bother you anymore huh?" She asks.

"Nope." I say shaking my head. "Well we better hurry before Charlie calls search and rescue for us."

"Right." Jake laughs. "We'll see you later on, just picking up some things."

"I figured."

Leah sighs. "Charlie forgot to call again?"

I nod. "You know he did."

"That man. I'll tell mom to let you know from now on."

"That would be helpful."

"See you both soon." Leah gives me a hug and Jakes waves as they walk off.

Together we load up the groceries in the trunk of Edwards Volvo – apparently my truck was too old to make the trip according to Edward. And as we get in, he starts the GPS again before grabbing my hand.

"Jared huh? Does this have anything to do with our conversation last night?"

I nod taking in a deep breath readying myself. "He was at one time… my fiancé. I'm sorry I didn't say anything sooner. He just isn't my favorite subject and like you said about Tanya, why would I talk about something that I don't care about anymore."

He nods. I hope he doesn't get mad that I didn't tell him I was engaged. "How long ago?"

"We um, broke up right after Leah's wedding two years ago."

"And Kim?" His thumb rub circles on top of my hand letting me know he isn't mad.

"The women who hated me because of him. She was in love with him, but Jared and I met one day while I was with Jake on the reservation and we hit it off. She made it her mission to butt in whenever she could. Touching him, getting him alone at all costs. We eventually had a talk – I use that term loosely – and I thought it was finally over. Jared proposed and I said yes. That is until the day of Leah's wedding. The day had gone perfectly and we were all so happy. I waited at what would be our home instead of going to Charlie's after seeing Leah off. He didn't anticipate me being there yet, and they came tumbling in the house. Clothes were already flying everywhere." Even though I am over it, the memories still make me angry. I was humiliated.

"I'm sorry Bella." He kisses my hand.

"It's fine. They deserve each other."

"Well I'm sure glad he was stupid enough to mess it up with you." I grin and lean over kissing him quickly.

"So, who are Jake and Leah?"

I slapped my hand on my forehead. "I'm sorry. I forgot you didn't know them. She's my step-sister and Jake is my best friend step brother-in-law thing." We laugh at my messed up way to describe him. "I have a younger step brother, Seth as well. We grew up together, all of us. Sue was married to Charlie's best friend Harry, but he died of a heart attack ten years ago. Charlie tried to stay away from Sue but after time they just couldn't help themselves, and fell in love. They waited to get married until last year though."

"Wow, I didn't realize you had a big family like that."

"I didn't for a while. It was just me and Renee when she divorced Charlie. But when she met Phil and they got married the summer before my sophomore year, I moved back here to live with Charlie so Renee could travel with Phil."

"That was nice of you. And good that you could spend some time with your dad."

"Yeah, I'm glad I did it. Don't get me wrong I love my mother, but she's a bit flighty and I had to be more adult than child for most of my life." He frowns. "Don't worry it wasn't on purpose on her part and she still took care of me, it's just – you'll know what I mean when you meet her." I laugh.

"If you say so." He shakes his head still following the GPS.

The drive down the back roads of forks is different than other times. It's fun seeing things from my childhood and being able to tell Edward different stories of myself as a kid. Especially some of the more stupid ones involving Jake. When we finally make it to my dads' house, his cruiser sits loud and proud in the drive way. If I'm not mistaken, I can see it has a new coat of paint on it. He is definitely sending a message.

Edward groans. "I forgot he was the police chief. He's going to have guns isn't it?"

I pat his hand. "Probably."

He smiles over at me but it's more of a grimace. "Let's get this part over with."

I laugh jumping out when he parks behind the cruiser. "What part?"

The front door opens but I can't see who it is. Edward is facing me blocking my view. "The part where he intimates me and threatens my life if I ever hurt you."

A voice behind him clears and Edwards face drains of blood. "Glad you're familiar with how this works. Too familiar. Should I be worried at how well you know the bringing home the boyfriend bit son?"

I'm trying so hard to be supportive of Edward and not laugh but his face when he turns around and sees Chief Swan, not Charlie, standing behind him with his uniform on complete with badge and shot gun in hand. I lose it.

"Thanks Bella." He whispers at me.

"Well should I?" Charlie asks Edward.

"Uh, no sir. Not at all. I've only had one serious girlfriend in my life."

Charlie is silent studying him over. "Good." He takes a step closer and Edward flinches back a step. Suddenly Charlie grins and lays a hand on Edwards shoulder. "Relax son, I'm just messing with you."

Edward's shoulders sag a little in relief and he smiles a more genuine smile at Charlie. "Nice to meet you sir, I'm Edward Cullen." He sticks his hand out.

Charlie grabs it giving him a good tight handshake. "You too, call me Charlie."

He nods. "Thanks." Edward points towards the trunk of the Volvo. "I'm going to start grabbing the groceries for Bella."

Charlie grins. "Great." He pulls him in close again. "Just so we are clear. If you do hurt my daughter, it won't be a threat. It'll be a promise."

Edward nods. "It's not my intention to hurt her. In fact, she's more capable of hurting me then I her."

"Good to know." Charlie nods and watches him as Edward walks confidently towards the back of the SUV but I see him let out a shaky breath.

I shake my head at Charlie as I hug him. "Really dad?"

"What?" He asks innocently.

I just laugh. "Love you."

"You too kid."

"Oh, thanks for the call about Jake and Leah." I arch an eyebrow at him.

He has the decency to look sheepish. "Sorry Bell. Billy is coming too."

"I figured." I cross my arms shooting him an accusing look.

With that Charlie silently walks to the back of the Volvo and helps Edward with the bags showing him into the kitchen. I give Sue a hug and we catch up when I find her in the kitchen making everyone something to drink.

"Bella!" Renee comes around the corner with Phil trailing behind her.

"Mom!" I give her a hug and she kisses me on the head.

"How's my baby?"

"I'm doing great." I feel him more than I see him standing behind me so I turn and grab his hand.

"Well well, who's this?" Renee eyes Edward.

"Mom, this is Edward, my boyfriend. I told you about him. "

"Oh yes of course, I forgot." She waves her hand in the air. "Hello Edward. Aren't you handsome."

"Mom!" I flush embarrassed.

"What? He is." She smiles at him. "You two are just adorable together, aren't they Phil." Phil starts to say something but Renee interrupts him. "Go get phone so I can get a picture, please?"

"Sure." Phil leans forward and hugs me then shakes Edwards hand. "Nice to meet you."

"You too." Edward answers. Once he's back with her phone and she's distracted trying to remember how to bring up the camera, Edward leans over to whisper in my ear. "Wow I see what you mean now."

"Told you."

"And that's Phil? I was expecting someone –."



"What can I say, she likes them young." I shrug at my mothers' ways. He makes her happy so who am I say anything. It isn't like he is my age.

"Here we go, got it." She holds up her phone. "Smile lovebirds." She snaps the picture right as Charlie walks in.

"Love? Who said anything about love?" Charlie questions.

"Oh please, anyone with two eyes can see how in love they are with each other. Grow up Charlie." Renee waves him off.

"Grow up? You're telling me to grow up Renee? That's rich." They banter back and forth with each other about who looks older and who acts older until Phil takes Renee into the living room.

"They always argue like that?" Edward asks me as I pull out my groceries and get to work.

"That wasn't arguing." I grin. "That's just how they communicate."

He looks astounded momentarily then shakes his head. "Interesting." I just laugh. What can I say my family is one of a kind.

The next few hours pass with Sue, Phil and I cooking in the kitchen. Renee offers to help but Phil jumps in and volunteers for her. That is probably best for everyone. My mom, no matter how hard she tries, can't cook. Phil, turns out, is an excellent cook.

Jake, Leah, Seth, and Billy arrive right as dinner is about ready. Seth grabs me in a hug and I'm surprised to see how big he's gotten in such a short amount of time since I saw him last. "Are you taking something?" I whisper to him.

He throws his back with a boisterous laugh. "No, just good genes."

"Sure." I smile patronizingly.

Leah walks in holding a large cake carrier. "Where should I put this?"

I look around the dining room and point at the best open spot. Curious, I watch her as she lifts up the top. A beautiful cake appears from beneath. It's a two tier buttercream cake with red and green icing ornaments all over it and a gorgeous large red bow sitting on top garnished with mistletoe.

"Oh my God Leah. It's stunning!"

She smiles widely. "Thanks. I may not be able to cook but I love to bake."

"Well its gorgeous, I almost don't want to eat it."

"Trust me, you want to eat this cake." She laughs walking off.

Alright then. I'm eating the cake.

We make a self-serve line when everything has been prepped and ready to go. Edward and I allow everyone to go ahead and we wait till last. With our plates piled up high, we find seats with Phil, Renee, Sue and Charlie. As soon as we sit down Renee starts a conversation with me about her new yoga class she's taken up. Well it's not really new she's been telling me about for months, she just forgets. And despite Charlie's earlier attempts to intimidate Edward, they seem to hit it off.

I move the food around my plate watching my family, just like last night, eating and talking having a great time in each other's company. My eye strays to Edward and Charlie locked into a conversation. Edward barks out a laugh and Charlie chuckles at his own joke. Once again I'm overwhelmed by the love I have for him. At how perfect we seem to fit each other's lives. I know love is hard work. It's commitment, sacrifice, communication and compromise. It's also sharing your life with someone, telling them the little things that no one else cares about. It's sitting at home stuffing your face full of cookies and knowing it's okay but he's already eaten two times the amount you have!

Well that's probably just an Edward and Bella thing, but see that's the point. Even the most simplistic of moments are more when it's with someone you love. Love is worth it; he is worth it.

He catches me staring at him and his eyebrows furrow but he keeps smiling. "Okay?" He whispers.

"Never better." I sneak a quick kiss.

Once everyone is done eating, we all pitch in to help with the clean-up. And passing out presents is more of a casual affair here than at the Cullen's. Charlie loves the tackle box I got him, per Sue's instructions, and mom loves the new yoga outfit and mat I got her.

"I can't believe you guessed I was doing yoga!" She hugs me.

"Mom, you told me about it when you started in August."

She's looking over her outfit barely paying attention to me. "Huh?" She glances up.

"Never mind." I chuckle.

We finish with the gifts, and between the both of us we have a nice pile of presents that Edward carries to the car. We all are still sitting around just talking when Edward walks in looking off. I can't explain it but he just looks nervous or something. Jake walks in behind him grinning madly and asks Charlie if he could show him and Edward his new boat.

Charlie's pride and joy.

So of course, Charlie jumps up and excitedly moves towards the backyard.

Sue leans over. "He was just looking for a reason to show it off."

"I'm sure."

All the guys file out with Seth trailing behind helping Billy.

"So." Renee grins when the door is shut. "How serious are you two?"

I bite my lip. "Pretty serious."

"I was right earlier then. You love him, don't you?" For all of Renee's ways she can be very perceptive when she wants to.

"Yes. Very much."

She wraps an arm around my shoulder and leans back against the couch holding me like when I was child. "Good. He seems like a great guy."

"He is." I hug her back leaning my head on her shoulder. "Love you mom."

"Love you too baby."

"Anyone ready for cake now?" Leah asks.

I jump up following her. "I am."

"Anyone else?"

We all end up sitting around watching a Christmas movie – The Christmas Story, mom insisted – eating this delicious cake, seriously it's amazing, while the guys did whatever it was they were doing outside.

Unfortunately, the time comes for Renee and Phil to go so they can catch their flight. Edward and I decide to leave as well so we don't get back home too late. I ask if he just wants to stay the night but he insists we have to go home.

Mom and I have a tearful goodbye while the guys slap each other on the back giving gruff see ya laters. Charlie is unusually emotional when I tell him goodbye though, and pulls me to the side.

"How serious are you about this guy?" He asks.

The awkward part of me wants to joke but I can tell he's looking for a serious answer. "Well, I love him."

"You're sure?"

"Yes dad. What's this about?"

He shrugs and pulls me in for a hug. "Just wondering. Make sure he treats you right. I don't want another Jared situation."

Wow something very serious was happening for Charlie to say his name. "He's not dad. Edward is nothing like him."

He nods. "If you're sure then that's good enough." He quickly steps away and finds Edward telling him bye again.

That was weird.

The next four hours are… quiet. I try a few times to talk with Edward but he just seems so distracted that I give up. His driving is also a bit more scarier than normal, until I call him out on it.

I start to get nervous. Did something happen? I hope Charlie didn't really scare him off. No, he seemed fine with Charlie when we were leaving. Did I do something? No, that's not it either. He's been more than affectionate with me since we left, he's just too distracted to talk. My heart jump starts as a new suspicion runs through my mind. Between their 'alone time' outside, the weird goodbye from Charlie, and his eagerness to get home. The suspicion starts to grow.

That's when I remember a few nights back when I was falling asleep and I heard him whispering in my ear. "I love you sweetheart." I try to say it back but I'm too far gone. I feel his lips press against my hair and then so low I'm almost not sure if I really hear it he whispers, "Please say yes."

My heart kicks into high gear. Could it really be that? What if I'm wrong? I don't think I am though. It all fit together too well. But before I could dwell too much, we pull up outside his house.

Quietly, we both sit almost as if we are waiting for one of us to make the first move. "Do you mind if we leave the stuff in the car tonight? I'm pretty tired from all of the driving."

"Uh, sure. That's fine."

He smiles slightly and steps out of the car. I follow and he waits on the sidewalk pulling me in for a unexpected yet passionate kiss when I'm in touching distance. Just as I am starting to let myself melt into him, he pulls away.

"Let's go in." He whispers. I can only nod as he grabs my hand taking me with him.

Edward opens the front door almost cautiously looking around then steps in. He allows me to walk past him before he shuts the door. His living room is dimly lit by a few candles sitting on the coffee table, the mantle and the fireplace is crackling beside his tree. Flower petals are all over the ground leading towards the gifts laying under the tree.

Unthinking, I follow them and kneel down beside the couch. I look up astonished to feel tears running down my face. I didn't even realize I was crying.

I was right.

"How did you do all of this?"

"When I went out with Emmett the other day, I bought everything I needed but Alice came over while we were gone and set it all up for me. What do you think?"

I shake my head for moment at a loss for words. "It's beautiful." I decide to test the waters. "But why all of this just for us to exchange our gifts?"

He just grins kneeling beside me. "Bella, in the short period of time we've been together I've learned two things. First, you've become my life. I wake up every day thinking about you. And if I'm lucky enough to have you here with me I lay watching you sleep, thanking God for every breath you take; for every moment I have with you."

I'm full blown crying by this point.

"Now the second and probably most important thing is this," he pulls out a box. I glance down at it but look back at him unable to take my eyes off of him. "Isabella Marie Swan, I love you more than life itself. We could spend eternity together and it wouldn't be enough. But I hope you'll let me spend the rest of my life here on earth making you happy. Will you marry me?"

"Yes." I whisper almost immediately. "There's nothing I want more."

I glance down at the beautiful ring sitting in the cushion of the small box he's holding. He carefully takes it out and places it on my third finger.

Running his thumb across it, he speaks quietly. "It was my grandmothers, then my mothers, and now yours."

His early Christmas present. A few tears escape and drop onto my hand. "Why not Rosalie?"

He laughs quietly. "Rose wanted her own ring. Not one passed down."

I laugh with him. Sounds like something Rose would say. "Well, I love it. It's just so beautiful."

"You're beautiful."

I lean forward and press my forehead to his. Our noses skim one another lightly until he connects the little space between our lips. He gently holds my face in his hands as his lips caress mine so sweetly and lovingly that I shed a few more tears.

Edward pulls back. "Those better be tears of joy."

I giggle. "Of course."

He pecks my lips one more time then leans down and grabs the gift I had left under the tree this morning. "Can I open it now? I've been dying to see what it is."

"Go ahead. But it's nothing as special as this." I smile down at my ring.

"I'm sure it is." He disagrees. Tearing it open, he sits back staring at the canvas in his hands.

I scoot beside him and look at it. The canvas holds a small replica of his living room painted on it. I also had the guy who did it add two silhouettes of Edward and I sitting in front of his tree staring at the Christmas lights.

"Wow." He whispers.

"You like it? I snuck a picture one night of the living room. It was just so beautiful to me and I started thinking that it might be nice to have a picture of us in front of the tree keeping a small piece of how we first met with us even after the holidays were over. Look, I even had him add a plate full of cookies too." I point to the end table beside the couch. Edward throws his head back laughing then pulls me in for another kiss.

"It's perfect. I love it, thank you."

I pull out the easel that came with the canvas, set it up and place the painting on it. We sit back wrapped in each other's arms looking at the perfect moment captured in the painting.

Now we'll always be able to remember This Christmas.

I hope you all enjoyed this last chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it. I was a little nervous hoping I ended it meeting all of your expectations. So if you could, let me know what you all think. And thank you to those who have stuck with me till the end. You're awesome!