A/N: Welcome to the beginning of the end . . .
Okay, that sounded far better in my head. Not so much on the screen.
One final note of thanks to Pamela Lorraine for holding my hand throughout this adventure with her boundless exclamation points and heart emoticons that encouraged me to keep going, and to Ninkita for her willingness to look over the littlest of things and making sure my words sound right from the first chapter to the last.
To Diane, aka OTB, thank you for that amazing banner! I swear, every time you create something, I want to write story after story just to be able to request another one of your gems.
DISCLAIMER – One last time . . . You already know I don't own Twilight. My research is heavily dependent on Google and TV shows. I'll try to make everything as realistic as possible, but I might exercise creative license at some point. Cope, okay?
PS: Thank you for coping!
EPILOGUE ~ ASKING FOR MORE
I scrubbed my hand over my face, clenching my fatigued eyes shut to ease the stinging. I hadn't slept a wink all night, having rushed here right after dinner. Sunshine had just started to stream through the windows, announcing the arrival of a new day, but it gave me no comfort, and I knew there would be none until the doctors confirmed that she was doing okay. I buried my face in my palms and sighed, my leg bouncing up and down in agitation.
I vaguely registered the sound of soft footsteps approaching me, but paid them no mind until I felt someone take a seat next to me. A palm landed on my back, rubbing slow, comforting arcs, and the familiar touch made me sigh again.
I raised my head to meet her eyes. Red-rimmed and glistening, they made my chest constrict with fear. But then her lips curved up into a smile, and I allowed myself to hope for good news.
"She'll be okay," Bella assured me quietly. "The doctors are still inside because they want to observe her for a few minutes, but they sent a nurse out to give us the news. She's out of danger, Edward. She's going to be fine."
All the breath left my lungs in a whoosh, and I sagged in my seat. Sensing what I needed, Bella scooted closer and wound her arms around my waist, resting her head against my shoulder. We stayed like that for a while, holding each other together, until I looked up and saw Ma approaching us.
Bella attempted to shift, and I let her—but only slightly. I kept my arm around her shoulder, needing to feel her beside me to hold onto my composure. Ma allowed herself a smile at the sight of us, and it felt good to see it light up her face after the hours we'd all spent battling dread and despair.
A few beats passed in silence. There was nothing but quiet conversation, the hum of a passing stretcher, the beeping of monitors—a din so typical of a hospital—that surrounded us. For hours, the same sounds had kept me on edge, but now that we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, they didn't seem as suffocating or foreboding.
The distinct sound of rapid footsteps clanking their way down the hallway reached my ears, and I craned my neck curiously. It was Tanya barreling toward us, Adam following close behind.
"I'm so sorry," she explained hurriedly. "I forgot to plug in my phone, and the battery died sometime last night. I only saw your messages once I woke up. I'm sorry, Edward."
"It's okay. I didn't expect you to come over, Tan. I just wanted to let you know what'd happened."
She sat down with a scowl. "What do you mean? Of course I was going to come. How could you thi—" She looked like she was about to launch into a diatribe, but Adam placed his hand on her shoulder, giving it a calming squeeze.
"I think you can take Edward to task later, babe." He smiled at her before turning to me. "Do we have any news? How is she doing?"
"The nurse informed us that she's out of danger. But we'll know more soon."
"I called McCarty and let him know about the situation," Tanya told me after a moment, sounding calmer. I shot her a grateful smile. "He asked me to pass along his regards because he didn't want to disturb you by calling."
"How did this happen?" Adam inquired gently.
Bella's placed her hand in mine, holding it tightly, and I interlaced our fingers.
"I had dinner with her last night," I explained. "She was fine while we ate—her usual cheerful, chatty self. She was talking about the next trip her group was planning as she went into the kitchen to get something. Then suddenly, she fell silent." I cleared my throat against the lump lodged there. "I didn't think . . . I waited for a minute or so. She didn't respond when I called out, so I went in and saw . . . She had fallen out of her chair, and she was . . . so still." My free hand wove through my hair, tugging at the strands in frustration. "Maybe I missed the signs . . . it couldn't have happened so suddenly."
"Don't go there, Edward," Bella admonished in a whisper. She reached up to pull my hand away, bringing it to her lips. "You saved her. You got her here in time. You didn't do anything wrong."
I looked at her, sighing through a smile, half-hearted though it was.
"Bella's right," Dad announced as he joined us. His brow was smooth, the furrows from last night having disappeared. Dr. Snow was just a few steps behind him. His face, too, was relaxed, and as soon as he started to speak, all of us breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"She's doing fine. I'd like to keep her here for a couple of days, to be on the safe side, but I don't foresee any problems in the near future . . . if she heeds my advice." He turned to face my mother. "She really needs to take it easy. No more travelling to distant lands all on her own. Her heart isn't strong enough to bear the stress."
"I understand, Doctor," she answered. "We'll talk to her about it. When can we see her?"
"She's being shifted to the room as we speak. She'll be a little groggy for a while, but you can go see her. Preferably no more than a couple of you at a time."
"Thank you so much." Dad shook his hand, and Dr. Snow rattled off the room number, pointing us in the right direction before taking his leave.
My parents headed there immediately, while the rest of us followed at a slower pace. Bella's hand remained in mine, squeezing gently from time to time, soothing me like no one else could.
We stood outside the room, looking in through the glass. Ma reached out to take Nana's hand in hers, her movements so gentle and slow as though she were afraid of breaking her. And even from the distance, I could understand the feeling—my brave, adventurous, stubborn Nana didn't seem anything like herself in that room. Hooked up to machines and IVs, the bed appeared to swallow her petite frame, as it lay still save for the gentle rise and fall of her chest. My eyes stung when I saw my mother tremble through her sobs. Dad wrapped a strong arm around her waist, and she curled into his side. I looked away, drawing Bella closer to my side and leaning down to bury my face in her hair.
It was a few minutes later that they stepped out of the room. Tanya reached out to pull Ma into a hug, while Bella and I started to make our way inside.
"Shoot!" Bella muttered suddenly, pulling her phone out of her jeans pocket. The screen lit up with her colleague's name as it vibrated in her palm. "She's probably returning my call from last night. I'd left a message about postponing our meeting."
"Take it," I told her. "I'll wait for you inside."
She looked uncertain. "Are you sure?"
I mustered a smile to reassure her. "I'll be okay for a few minutes, Bella. Finish your call, then come over."
"Okay." Rising on her toes, she pressed a kiss to the corner of my mouth before striding down the hall.
I sucked in a long, slow breath before pushing the door open. My footsteps echoed unnaturally loud in the room as I walked to the side of the bed, folding myself into the plastic chair set next to it.
I placed my hand over her arm, finding comfort in the warmth of her skin. Spots and wrinkles marred it in places, reflecting her advancing age in a way Nana never allowed her spirit to show.
For several minutes, I sat there quietly, listening to the beeping that monitored her heartbeat, watching her face for any signs of consciousness. I'd almost given up hope of her waking up soon, when I noticed her eyeballs move underneath the lids. Her withered cheek twitched, grey eyelashes fluttering at the same time as her arm moved almost imperceptibly under my palm.
"Nana," I murmured thickly, and her eyelids squeezed shut before they slowly stretched open.
"Ed-Edward," she rasped, and I couldn't stop the smile that broke out on my face.
"I'm here, Nana," I comforted her as she blinked. Her gaze swung around the room in confusion and then landed on me. "I'm right here. You're in the hospital. But everything's fine. The doctors did what they needed to do, and you're going to be just fine."
"I don't . . . I don't remember anything. We had dinner . . ." she trailed off.
"Yes. You collapsed after that. I called 911, and they brought us here. Everybody else got here as soon as possible."
She sighed, or rather, huffed. "I'm sorry for the trouble." A chuckle burst through my mouth at the petulance in her voice.
"Don't even . . . We're just so glad you're okay. Ma was in here with Dad just a little while ago, but you were still asleep from the sedation." I looked up and didn't find anyone outside the room, so I assumed they'd retreated to the waiting area. "Let me go cal—"
"No, wait," Nana interrupted anxiously. "Just . . . Just stay here with me for a while. Just a few minutes."
"Of course," I murmured. I took hold of her hand in mine—the one that was free of needles—and pressed my lips to the back of it. It brought a smile to her drawn face.
"You scared us, Nana," I whispered thickly. "You really scared us."
She twisted her palm, making me let go, and then raised it to pat my cheek. "Silly boy," she replied, her voice cracking slightly. "I'm not going anywhere. Well, not just yet. I've got some unfinished business to attend to, after all." She attempted to lift her head, wincing at the effort, but continued to do so nonetheless.
I jumped up to my feet, and gently took hold of her shoulders to lay her back down. "You have got to stop this," I told her as quietly as I could, keeping the admonishing tone out of my voice, knowing that it'd only make her hackles rise. "Tell me what you need. I'll get it for you."
She narrowed her eyes, but the effect she was going for was ruined by her breathing which had grown heavier with the exertion. "I'm not an invalid."
"No, you're not," I agreed. "You just have to learn to take it easy sometimes. A little rest doesn't make you weak, Nana, especially while you're in the hospital."
"Fine," she grumbled. "I thought I saw my handbag in the corner."
"Yeah, it's right here." I grabbed it quickly and handed it to her. "I remembered how you always keep your meds in there, and I thought the doctors might need to see them. So I made sure to grab it before we left your house."
"Good," she approved, digging around until she found what she was looking for. "That allows me to complete at least one of those unfinished tasks."
My eyes fell on what she held in her palm, before snapping up to her face in shock. She wore a small smirk and held out the small, black box toward me.
"Well?" she prompted. "Take it. This was why you came to see me last night, right?"
I could only gape at her. "How did you know?"
"I have my ways. Your fidgeting hands, the distraction in your eyes, and the way you nearly jumped every time I mentioned Bella's name. Plus, the fact that you came over alone specifically on the day she had professional commitments instead of our usual weekend visits, clued me in to your intentions."
I narrowed my eyes in amusement, taking the box from her. "Have you thought about joining the force? You could probably close a few cases for us, Sherlock."
She tittered. "Oh, Edward. She really has changed you, hasn't she? I can't tell you how it warms my heart to see you like this. The past year has been wonderful, hasn't it?"
"More so than I could ever imagine," I murmured honestly.
"You're ready for this." Her voice was warm, certain. "And that's exactly why you can be sure I'm going to hang around for a while, yeah? After all, how can I bid this life goodbye before watching the expression on your face when she says yes?"
I'd been toying with the idea of asking Bella to marry me for the past one month—gathering courage, suppressing doubts, coming up with the perfect idea for the how and when and then discarding each one for not being perfect enough. But somehow, when I heard Nana say the words, the idea became more real that it'd ever been when it was just in my head.
I swallowed, a sudden bout of anxiety twisting my gut into a ball, and Nana sighed loudly.
"Oh boy! I've awoken the beast, haven't I? Edward, don't be nervous. You have nothing to worry about. She'll sa—"
Before she could finish, there was a knock on the door, and Bella poked her head in. "May I join you?"
I was too far gone to be able to utter words, so Nana took over for me.
"Of course, dear. Come on in."
I stood and gestured for Bella to take the seat as they talked, which was actually just an excuse to step away because I took a moment to compose myself. I rubbed my suddenly-clammy palms over my jeans and drew in a deep breath or two, trying to put the ideas of facing Bella's rejection out of my head.
She'll say yes, I chanted in my head, willing myself to believe it.
When I returned to the conversation, Nana was sharing details about the cruise her friends had planned for the summer, the same one she had eagerly informed me about last night.
But things had changed significantly since then, and I could see it on her face that she knew it.
"Tha-That sounds good," Bella told her hesitantly, and Nana picked up on it.
"I know," she replied, releasing a weary breath. "You don't need to tiptoe around it, Bella. I know I probably won't be joining them. I've tried hard to keep my age at bay . . . but it was bound to catch up with me at some point."
Her gaze flickered downward, her face crestfallen. Bella looked at me in entreaty, but I had no clue how to make it better.
I stepped forward, placing my hands on Bella's shoulders.
"It's okay, Nana. We'll have plenty of fun right here, I promise you. Plus, remember what you told me about Mrs. Stevens rethinking her decision after she almost fell down last week? You're not alone in this." She gave me a wistful smile, so I teased, "What? Are you telling me that you don't have any stories to share about someone you used to know? No one else battling the same issues and still enjoying their life?"
"Don't get fresh with me, Edward Anthony," she ordered, but the twinkle had returned to her eyes, giving away her amusement. "But now that you've brought it up, let me share a secret with you two." She brought her hand up to waggle a finger at us. "Remember, secret. Don't you dare reveal it to anyone else."
Bella peeked up at me, biting her lip to stifle a smile. "Promise," we agreed together.
Nana cleared her throat. "I made them up."
There was silence for a full minute after she said that. Bella and I exchanged a puzzled glance, then turned back to Nana, who seemed to be blushing. It was a relief to see her sallow skin suffused with color, but on the other hand, we needed more explanation on what exactly had brought it on.
"I'm sorry," Bella ventured tentatively. "I don't quite understand what you mean, Nana."
"Those people, those situations . . . I made them up," Nana repeated without meeting our eyes. "Well, not all of them. Sometimes, the people were real, while the problems came out of my imagination, or vice versa. But it wasn't all true."
"You've been saying things like that since I was a kid," I spluttered.
Nana pursed her lips and met my gaze. "Yes. I've been lying. . . sometimes. But there's a reason." She blinked. "People don't really pay attention to unsolicited advice, you know, even if it would benefit them. My children most certainly didn't, and your mother was the worst. So I came up with this method. When a person is in trouble or feeling glum, it's a comfort to hear of someone else who had been through the same, especially when it's accompanied by that same advice they didn't want earlier, now presented as a tried and tested solution."
"That's . . . That's very wise of you," Bella replied, and I nodded along, not knowing what else to say.
"I just didn't want to die without getting that off my chest," Nana announced. "But I also don't want Esme to know. So I told you kids, and I expect that you won't go babbling about it to my daughter."
"You got it," I assured her.
"Now get going you two. You've done enough fussing over me," she insisted, burrowing deeper under the blanket. "Send Esme and Carlisle in to get their share of hugs before I return to my beauty sleep. I guess I better get used to needing more and more rest, huh?" she groused.
I leaned in to kiss her cheek. "Don't be mad. Maybe . . . maybe we could still go on the trip, if you want."
Her eyes widened. "We?"
I smiled, shrugging. I looked at Bella, and she grinned back in encouragement.
"The doctor did say he didn't want you to go out there alone, but what if we took a family vacation instead? We could go by air, avoid the long travel, and with Dad coming along, we'd have a doctor on board. You'll just have to suffer through our company instead of your gals, though."
"I think I can manage that," Nana murmured, her cheeks pinkened with joy.
"Don't get too excited, okay? We're not doing anything without Dr. Snow's prior permission and thorough consultation. We have a few months to go until we need to make a decision."
"I can live with that."
We bid her goodbye, and she wore a contented smile as she waved back.
It was a week later that Nana was discharged from the hospital. Her birthday had gone by a while she was still there a couple of days ago, and she'd decided to celebrate that, as well as her freedom with a family get-together.
I pursed my lips, peering at my reflection in the mirror. I'd been fidgeting with the knot of my tie for a while now, but it just didn't want to cooperate, ending up crooked on one side first, then the other. After another minute of futile effort, I removed the damn thing and tossed it on the bed.
"What's with the carnage?"
I spun around at the sound of Bella's voice. She made her way over to me, cocking an eyebrow in amusement.
"Nothing," I muttered distractedly, my eyes raking over her body.
The shimmering black dress she'd chosen for tonight wrapped snugly around her slender frame, the hem reaching down to a few inches above her knees. The straps went around her shoulders, merging at the nape of her neck, leaving the smooth porcelain of her back bare. She'd twisted her hair into a ponytail that fell over her left shoulder, while her ears sparkled with the earrings I'd gifted to her on her birthday last month.
My gaze travelled down the belt clinching her waist, dipping lower to linger on her toned legs, snapping up to her face only when she cleared her throat. Her lips pulled up into a smirk, but other than that, she ignored my gawking.
"Didn't Nana say she was not going to tolerate any half-assed effort?" she teased, flicking her eyes toward my discarded tie. I rolled my eyes, but picked it up and held it out toward her.
"A little help?" I requested.
She giggled before making her way over to me. I bent my knees, and she placed the tie around my neck, her fingers working quickly and efficiently to create the perfect knot that'd eluded me. Once satisfied, she smiled up at me as I drew her closer.
"Perfect," she remarked, patting my chest. I grinned back, inwardly thanking God that I hadn't placed the ring box in my breast pocket.
"You look beautiful," I murmured.
My fingers grazed the soft skin at the small of her back, tracing patterns, chasing goosebumps. Her eyes—wide, alluring, rich pools of chocolate—shone with contentment as they held mine. Her lips were painted a soft, shimmering shade of pink—same as the blush blooming on her cheeks—and I couldn't resist leaning down to capture them.
She pulled herself up on her toes, meeting me halfway, our mouths coming together in a deep kiss. It started slow—lips gliding smoothly, tongues stroking languidly—but pretty soon, slow wasn't enough. Our breaths mingled, quickening in pace with the raw passion surging between us. Her fingers knotted in my hair as our lips mashed together, merging sloppily, hungrily through our gasps.
She whimpered into my mouth, the sound sending desire rippling along my skin. My hands tightened their grasp on her waist, and she pressed herself closer to me. The length of her body flush against my own, her hips swiveling too close to mine sent a sudden jab of pain into my thigh.
I pulled away from her mouth, recalling the little box I'd nearly forgotten until it dug into my skin. Bella's lips latched onto my neck, sucking on the flesh, while her thigh pressed insistently against mine.
I knew I had all of two seconds to stop this before it got out of hand . . . before she decided to investigate exactly what was digging into her skin and crushed all my plans for the evening.
"Bella," I groaned, summoning all my strength to make myself pull back instead of giving in to the urge of lifting her into my arms and leading us to the bed to finish what we'd started.
She didn't make matters easier, humming along my skin in response, making me shiver. She grinded herself against me again, reminding me again of why we needed to stop.
"Bella, we need to stop," I tried again. My voice was weak, but the words made her pause. She leaned back to meet my eyes.
"Stop?" she asked, almost incredulous.
I gulped, discreetly shifting my legs a little further away from hers. "Yeah," I croaked. "Everyone's expecting us at seven." I cleared my throat. "Like you said, Nana won't be pleased with a half-assed effort."
She stared at me through narrowed, suspicious eyes, pursing her lips which were now almost devoid of the gloss. I brought my hand up to my mouth, encountering the sticky substance there, which made me grimace. It distracted Bella, and she suppressed a grin at my expense.
"Fine." She stepped back, lifting her hand to my hair in amusement. "You might want to do something about that while I go fix my make-up."
She made her way into the bathroom, while I turned back to the mirror. In a matter of a few minutes, she'd managed to fuck up every strand of my hair into a riotous mess I knew I wouldn't be able to tame. Still, I raked a hand through it a few times, trying my best. It wasn't long before my hand drifted almost reflexively to my pocket. My fingers curled around the box, ghosting over the velvety surface, as my lips curled up at the thought of presenting it to Bella.
In the past week, I'd tried to get used to the idea, or at least prepare myself for the moment when I'd lay my heart on the line before the woman I loved. We'd been together for a year, and never once had I doubted that she was in this for the long haul, just as I was. But despite my unwavering faith in her, the thought never failed to make my heart lurch anxiously.
Now, as that moment drew closer, I could feel the stirrings of excitement and anticipation buzzing alongside the fear. There was a part of me—a small part right now, but one that was growing more insistent by the second—that couldn't wait to ask her to share her life with me forever.
A few minutes later, we were ready to leave. We reached my parents' place to find that even though we were well in time, we were still the last ones to arrive. Dad was the one who opened the door for us, greeting Bella and me with hugs before we made our way inside. We said hello to Ma before encountering Nana, who was surrounded by Alice, Jasper, Tanya, and Adam, all five of them involved in an animated discussion.
The sight made me smile.
While Tanya had been my confidante for years, it was only the past year that'd brought my colleagues closer than ever to my family. We'd held each other up through tough times and celebrated the happier ones together, be it Alice's promotion at work or Jasper's first single-handed bust, Bella's birthday party or my parents' wedding anniversary. Just a couple of months ago, Tanya and Adam had finally taken the plunge of moving in together, and we'd all been there to help them in the process, returning the favor from when they'd done the same for Bella and me.
Exactly six months from the day we'd found each other again, Bella and I had decided to start living together. The day had begun like any other, with both of us standing in front of the mirror. I had a court appearance to attend to, so I was adjusting my tie, while she fiddled with her hair. I glanced down at her, a little amused, a little enamored, and so completely in love with the idea of spending the littlest realities of life with her.
She'd looked up, our eyes meeting, and the words had left my mouth without preamble. Her answering smile had lit up her face, my day . . . my life.
Given that she'd only recently set up her apartment with everything she'd dreamed of in her own home and the fact that I didn't share any particular attachment toward mine, it was easy to settle upon the where. And so, my belongings found themselves a place on her shelves, while we finally began a life that was truly ours together.
Bella squeezed my hand, bringing me back to the present. My mother eagerly started to lead her to the kitchen, chatting about some new and interesting recipe she'd come across. My father called after them, asking Bella to remind him to show her the latest addition to his collection of paintings. It was a passion he'd nurtured for years, but neither my mother nor I had enough creative aptitude to share it. However, once Bella had perused the gorgeous pieces of art that adorned his study, she'd been glad to engage him in lively discussion about each, which always brought a twinkle to his eyes.
I knew there were days when Bella found herself missing her father more than anything, and nothing could completely soothe the longing that burned in her soul. But it warmed my heart to see her accept my family as her own. After everything we'd been through, nothing was more important for either of us than our loved ones. That was exactly why I'd opted out of any outrageous grand gestures, instead choosing to take this step into our future on this day and occasion, while everyone we cared for was here with us.
Dinner was a raucous affair. We stuffed ourselves with delicious food, while conversation and wine flowed freely around the table. Nana grumbled a bit about the lack of any spicy or fried elements in the meal, but perked up when dessert was served.
I watched Dad as he was about to interject with something when she picked up her spoon. She thwarted his effort, waggling a finger in his face.
"I know for a fact that my blood sugar is well within the normal range, Carlisle. Until the day the Lord decides to saddle me with diabetes over and above my weakling heart, I will damn well enjoy my birthday cake," she announced, and proceeded to gobble up a huge bite.
Dad could do nothing but raise his hands in surrender, while the rest of us worked hard to suppress our snickers.
Once everything was cleared up, Nana sent me a conspiratorial wink, directing everyone into the living room on the pretense of some riveting topic of discussion. Bella started to follow them, but I took her hand in mine.
"Come with me?" My voice wavered the tiniest bit, and I could only hope that she hadn't noticed it.
Trusting as ever, she smiled softly, placing her palm against mine. Braiding our fingers together, I led her out the backdoor to the patio that'd quickly become our favorite corner of the house. We made it a point to dine with my parents every other weekend or so, if my job permitted, and the end of the evening would often find the four of us settled here for a little peace and quiet. It wouldn't be long before my parents would bid us goodnight. Bella would scooch closer and lay her head against my shoulder, while I held her close, reveling in the simple, yet unparalleled joy of just being with her.
Bella went to sit down at her usual spot, but I squeezed her hand to stop her. She looked up at me questioningly. I leaned back against the wall and let go of her hand, draping my arm around her shoulders instead to draw her closer. She seemed a little confused, but followed my lead anyway.
I took a moment to breathe in, the gentle perfume from the garden mingling with Bella's sweet scent, and willed myself to calm down. I cast my mind back to the first time we'd been out here together . . . the first time she'd met my family. It seemed like ages ago, a time when we were both uncertain about the future—wishing for each other, but doubt and guilt preventing us from voicing our thoughts. My heart raced in my chest, sweat beading on the back of my neck, but for the first time since I'd thought of doing this, it wasn't anxiety that made my chest feel tighter. The memory of that night quelled the panic that'd been buzzing inside me all evening, leaving nothing but hope and immeasurable love in its place.
We'd come so far in the past year . . . There was no place for doubt between us. We'd known seven years ago that we were meant to be together, and despite everything we'd been through, we'd found our way back to each other.
What came next was just another step that'd take us closer to our forever.
"Did yo—" Bella started to say something, but broke off abruptly when I pulled away from her. "Edward?" she asked tentatively. "What's wrong?"
Concern flashed in her eyes as they raked over my face. I swallowed thickly, taking a quick, deep breath before I started to lower myself down to one knee.
I kept my gaze on her face, watching her while she watched me, her eyes widening as I reached out to take her hand. She peered at me through a thin veil of tears, her lips parting slowly as she realized what I was about to do.
"Isabella Swan," I began, and there was no hint of a tremor in my voice this time. "I love you more than my own life. I always have, and I always will. Six years of pain, guilt, loneliness couldn't begin to overcome the joy and love I found in the six months I spent with you. Letting you go was the hardest thing I've ever done, and today, I'm on my knees, asking you to bind yourself to me in such a way, that nothing can dare to separate us again. You gave me the world the moment you said yes to that blind date in college, but here I am, daring to ask for more. Because with you, there's always more . . . more love, more friendship, more happiness . . . more life." My fingers shook as I pulled out the box and pried the lid open, presenting her with the ring that'd been the symbol of my grandparents' love for over fifty years. "Will you marry me, Bella?"
I held my breath, but she didn't keep me waiting. As soon as the final words left my mouth, she nodded through her tears.
"Yes," she barely whispered through a sob, but riveted as I was, I had no trouble deciphering it. "Yes, Edward! Yes!"
I wanted to capture every facet of her beauty in this moment forever, but I couldn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes, blurring my vision. Brushing them off quickly, I pinched the ring between my thumb and forefinger and shakily pulled her left hand toward me.
My gaze reluctantly left her face to fall onto her hand as I slipped the ring onto her finger. It had an oval sapphire in the center, lined all around by little diamonds, with two larger baguettes marking the beginning of the platinum band on either side. I'd had it restored to perfection without making any changes in the original design, and I could only hope that she liked it.
When I looked up at her face, her fingers curled around mine, tugging me upward, her eyes focused solely on me. She held my gaze all the way as I rose to my feet before throwing herself into my arms. Crushing her to my chest, I buried my face in her neck, smiling through my tears, as she murmured Yes over and over in my ear.
It was several moments later that we broke apart, never straying far. I cupped her face in my palms.
"I love you," I whispered, and her face broke out into a smile.
"I love you, too. Forever, Edward."
Her words triggered another wave of happiness, almost as if it'd been waiting for a chance to crash over me and leave me drowning, breathless, overwhelmed with unbridled joy. I grinned, delighting in the feeling, and tightened my arms around Bella's waist.
I vaguely registered the cheers and catcalls from inside the house, but there was nothing that could've pulled my attention away from my girl . . . my fiancée.
As much as I loved my family, they would just have to wait their turn.
And as I lifted her into my arms, pressing my lips to hers before twirling around on my feet, ignoring our nosy audience for the time being, breathing in and relishing this moment that was just ours, I knew I'd gotten everything I'd ever wanted.
A/N: That's a wrap. Pictures of the gorgeous ring Edward and I found for Bella are posted in my Facebook group.
*hits COMPLETE* Now if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with some bittersweet tears.
Before that, the last, but the most important THANK YOU goes to you, the readers. I know this was nowhere near the typical E/B fanfic material. Hell, their romance was practically a subplot, yet you stuck with me and my longstanding dream of writing a murder mystery. I can only hope I did justice to my favourite genre. I hope you enjoyed the suspense, the friendship, the romance, and that it was worth the wait.
Well, for the rest of this month, you can find me buried under my big, fat books as the exams approach. But I'll be back in July with my EndoRead Fundraiser piece, Perfectly Imperfect ~ An outtake from my story, Fly With Me.
I also have a new short story in the works. It should be ready by next month.
I hope to see you there.
For pics, updates, exclusive snippets of my upcoming projects, come join us in my FB group – Fanfiction by ForeverRobsessed. The link is on my profile.
FIC REC - At First Sight by SparksFly15 - Bella is walking down the aisle, and the world changes when she sees the man of her dreams...for the first time.