~Christmas, one year later~

I hummed as I lifted a tray of cookies from the oven, the aroma of sugar and cinnamon filling the air. Edward loved Snickerdoodles. I chuckled softly. There wasn't a cookie I made Edward didn't love. Sweets were his downfall. I didn't dare make pies for dessert until the day before Christmas or he would eat them all, no matter where I hid them. They were still his favorite, and like unwrapped gifts, he always found them.

A year had passed since I walked through the front door to bring him his Christmas gift and stayed. We had spent the day alone, needing the time to be together. Dinner had been Chinese take-out, but I had found the ingredients in the kitchen and made Edward's favourite pie. He devoured it with gusto.

The next day, we went back to the little house where I had been staying, and brought my things home. Edward didn't relax until the boxes had been carried in, and my coat hung beside his in the front hall closet. He personally took the keys back to the owner with a final payment, refusing to let me leave the house. He told me he needed to walk in the house and find me there, waiting for him. I baked him another pie while he was gone.

Then we began the job of repairing our marriage.

The past year had been one of ups and downs, crying and tears, and laughter.

So much laughter and love.

Together, we learned new steps. How always to communicate. To speak what was on our mind instead of assuming. Jane had taught us that well.

When we first saw Jane in the New Year and told her we were back living together, she greeted the news with calmness.

"Somehow I'm not surprised," she admitted. "I had a feeling you would, no matter what I said."

"It works for us," Edward insisted, holding my hand tight, as if he were afraid I would get up and leave.

"We're still taking it slow, Jane. I'm in the guest room," I offered as a compromise. "But we do better when we're in close proximity to each other."

We had agreed to that, thinking it was the best of both worlds.

She pursed her lips, tapping her pen against the bottom one as she studied us. "Don't wait too long," she advised. "Feel. Act. Love."

And we did.

It happened unexpectedly near the end of January. We were in the kitchen, making dinner on a Saturday. Music was playing, and one of my favorite songs came on. Before I knew it, Edward had me in his arms, sweeping me across the floor, humming the words in my ear.

All of me loves all of you

Love your curve and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

When the song ended, I lifted my head and met Edward's gaze. His eyes were dark and warm. His arms tightened, drawing me flush to him.

"I love you, my Bella."

The air around us bubbled with heat. Edward dropped his face to my neck, his lips gliding over my skin. "I need you."

I pulled him to my mouth. "I need you."

He carried me to the master bedroom, and lay me on our bed, hovering over me. "This is where you belong. Here with me. Always."

I caressed his face, running my fingers over his cheeks and dragging them through his hair. "Yes."

It started soft and sensual. Sweet. His touches were reverent. His kisses long, deep, and slow. As we discarded our clothes, my body melded to his in relief of being close to him again. Our passion built. Our touches became more frantic, our hands unable to stop or slow down, needing to feel more, hold more, touch more. Whispered words of love, promises of forever, and vows of a lifetime of us escaped our lips. Edward's low moans of pleasure mixed with my pleas for him, and I cried out his name as we came together. In the quiet glow of satisfaction, he tugged me close.

"No more guest room."

"No."

"We start again—in every way. Now."

I sighed in peace. "Yes."

~o0o~

I heard Edward's voice crooning from the family room. With a smile, I slid the first of the pies into the oven, then filled a plate with cookies and walked down the hall.

Everywhere you looked was Christmas. Decorations, lights, sounds. Glittering in the corner was a massive tree, shimmering under the weight of the two thousand twinkling bulbs Edward insisted it needed. The branches fairly groaned with the weight of the ornaments we had put on, but he was right.

It was a glorious sight.

But even more glorious, was the image in front of the tree.

Edward.

He was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed holding our daughter, showing her things on the tree, and crooning to her in his best daddy voice. Her eyes never left his face, entranced by the deep tenor of his speech.

"Mommy and I got this one a few weeks ago. We had your name put on it. See?" He dangled a crystal heart in front of her. "It says 'Baby's First Christmas, 2016'. We'll buy you a new one every year." He lifted another one down, the wings of the angel spread wide against his palm. "And this one is for your brother, Jordan." His voice wavered. "He's watching over us in Heaven."

He lifted her close, nuzzling her cheek. "We'll have a whole lifetime of memories to share with you, Faith."

Faith Esme had been a shock. Only weeks after our passionate lovemaking reunion, I had discovered I was pregnant. With the joy, came sorrow, and worry. Edward fussed the entire pregnancy, barely letting me out of his sight. I became fearful of getting in a car. We both struggled with the happiness we felt.

Jane helped us through many rough times, and the day our daughter was born, was one of the greatest moments in my life. She arrived early, and Edward had panicked, but our doctor's calm presence eased us through the scary moments. Seeing Edward hold her so reverently, the love he had for our tiny angel, brought me intense joy and comfort.

Now, watching him with Faith, I felt the stirrings of nerves. I bit my lip, thinking of how our lives were about to change again.

Edward looked up, a wide smile on his face. "There's my other favorite girl." He held out his hand. "Come sit with us, Mommy. Faith and I are enjoying some tree time."

I sat beside him, setting down the tray.

He grinned. "Look Faith, cookies. We love cookies."

He transferred her to one arm and reached for a cookie, chewing happily. "Hmm, so good," he hummed. "Do I smell pie?"

I laughed, taking Faith from Edward, cuddling her close. She blinked up at me, her green eyes so like Edward's in her chubby little face. Silky tufts of hair stuck up all over her head, the color beginning to change into the same bronzy hues as his. Her lips pursed and opened, as a long yawn escaped.

I heard the click of Edward's phone, and I glanced up as he took another picture. He looked at his screen with a pleased grin.

"That's a keeper."

He tapped away for a minute then showed me his new wallpaper.

"My girls. You fit perfectly there."

I ducked my head, fiddling with the edge of the blanket. I pulled Faith's bassinet close, and settled her in, making sure she was warm. Her eyes were already shut, her little fist around the blanket.

She was so perfect. I felt the tears begin to gather in my eyes.

"Bella?"

He slipped his fingers under my chin. "Love, is something wrong?"

"I–I…" My voice faltered.

"You can tell me anything. You know that."

I wasn't sure how to tell him this, since I could scarcely believe it myself.

"Just say it," he insisted. "Talk."

I blurted out the first words that came to mind.

"We need to remember to actually use the condoms when we buy them."

I hadn't gone back on birth control after Faith was born because of the side effects. Edward insisted we use condoms when I was ready to explore that side of our relationship again. It had only been a short time since we started being intimate, and we had forgotten more than once.

He chuckled as he reached for another cookie. "I'll do better. You're just so sexy, and we get carried away so fast."

"Too late," I squeaked.

His hand froze, and he met my gaze with a stunned look. His eyes dropped to my stomach then bounced back to my face. "Wh-what?"

"This time next year, there will be four of us celebrating Christmas together."

"You–you're pregnant?"

I nodded. "It's early, but the test came back positive."

He leaned forward, gripping the back of my neck, kissing me hard. His green eyes were ablaze in joy. He dragged me onto his lap, holding me tight.

"Holy shit, Bella."

I laughed at his shock. It was much the same as how I felt when I saw the positive pregnancy test.

I looked up, meeting his gaze. "Good holy shit, right?"

He kissed me. "The best." His brow furrowed. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Still reeling a little, but fine."

"You've seen Doctor G?"

"Yesterday. He confirmed it, laughed, and called you an overachiever, then told me to come see him next month."

"Okay. Good." He laid his hand on my stomach. "This is my favorite gift this year."

We were quiet as we looked at the tree. Beside us, our beautiful daughter slumbered. Inside me, a new life grew. Wrapped around me was the love of my life. My Edward.

Once again, Christmas Eve came with a miracle.

I lifted my head.

"Merry Christmas, Edward."

His smiling lips were warm when they touched mine.

"Merry Christmas, love."


Thank you for reading this somewhat different pic. We all experience pain in life, and sometimes the end result makes us stronger. I wanted to show a love that could withstand such pain.

I wish you the joy of the season. Peace in your life. A wonderful 2017. However you say it, however you celebrate, may it be joyous and warm.

Thank you for being part of my world.

See you in 2017. I have a little something for you.

Hugs to all... and to all a good night.