A/N: It's been a long time since I've even attempted to post a new multi-chapter story, aside from what I've worked on with ericastwilight over on PlotbunnyWranglers, so I've seriously got a case of the new posting jitters. I know I still have stories left unfinished, which I have started to pick up again after a long mental hiatus, so I do hope to get back to posting those again, too. But as it's the 10th anniversary of Twilight today (which seriously has me like whoa where has the time gone?!), this is my little celebration and thanks for everything this fandom has given me. It's been an amazing ride, and it's a blessing that it's still going strong.
This is a story I started writing as a one-shot way back in 2010, I believe, when my mind was otherwise blocked, just to get things stirring again, and has been on the back burner ever since. I don't have a posting schedule, even though a majority of it is already written and I hope to keep that momentum going. I'm also still working on things with ericastwilight, as well as my own stuff, so it might be slow moving, or it might finish up in a week. I'm just that unpredictable. But when I emailed the first few chapters to myonlyheroin, I really don't think I've seen her that excited and shouty-capping me since I wrote her an outtake of LNE for her birthday a few years back. And now, she's all happy because I'm starting to post it… so it's all her fault! This story, so far, is not heavy in the angst department, and I have no intentions of making it go in that direction. It's just something fun and sweet, I think. Hope you all enjoy :)
"I want you to have my baby, Bella."
Wine sprayed from my mouth and all over the front of Edward's shirt, and then my widened gaze met his. "Well, that was subtle. How did we get from me having no date for my company Christmas party to having a baby? Is that supposed to be like some kind of consolation prize?"
"I appreciate the ego boost," Edward replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
I breathed out a heavy sigh and ran to the kitchen to grab a rag to dry off his shirt. "You know what I mean. It's not like you gave me any kind of lead up there."
Edward took the cloth from my hand and wiped off his neck, and then stood without another word. I felt bad as I watched him walk down the hall toward his bedroom of the apartment we'd been sharing for nearly three years and close the door behind him. I hadn't meant to offend him or hurt his feelings, but he'd taken me completely off-guard. He had been my best friend since high school and we'd even dated briefly in our senior year before deciding that our relationship was better off as it was. In the decade since, we'd had an amazing friendship and I couldn't understand why he would want to change things now.
When he came back out a few minutes later, fully changed, he still refused to look at me as he walked over to the washer to set his shirt to soak. I crossed the room to him and rested my hand on his arm. "I'm sorry, Edward. I didn't mean…"
"I know, Bella. It's okay," Edward replied as he poured detergent over a particularly large spot on the fabric and began rubbing it in. "Just forget I said anything."
"You know me well enough to know that will never happen," I said lightly, and he even gave a little laugh, but still wouldn't look at me. I took his hand from the knob once he set the washer and led him back to the couch to sit with me again. "Where did that come from?"
Edward took a deep breath and lowered his eyes to my hand that was still wrapped around his. "Do you remember the talk we had about this after your breakup with Jake?"
My back stiffened, and my fingers squeezed reflexively around his hand. I did remember but had given it little thought since. The end of my relationship with Jake had come suddenly and hit me hard. It was two days before my twenty-seventh birthday when he informed me that he really didn't see a future for us and he was leaving Seattle to move back to La Push. Even in that moment, I knew the real reason—I had been hesitant about moving out of the apartment I shared with my male best friend for a guy I had only been dating for six months.
I wasn't overly devastated by the breakup, as I couldn't find it in myself to disagree with him. He was a nice enough guy, but at that point in my life, I was beginning to think about more concrete, long-term plans—finding "the one", settling down, and starting a family. I wanted to be a mother someday, and I was back at square one again. That night, while sharing a tub of ice cream in our kitchen, Edward's eyes widened almost humorously when I half-joked about the possibility of just going the artificial insemination route.
By the end of the evening, we'd made one of those pacts that if we were still single by the time we turned thirty, we would have a baby together. However, I never thought that any of it would come to fruition, and it was just one friend consoling another. Edward was an extremely good-looking man, but not one of those guys that knew it. I'd always believed that whoever won his heart and got to spend her life with him would be a very lucky woman. He was one of the few really good ones out there; kind, considerate, and would literally give anyone the shirt off his back. He also spoiled what girlfriends he did have over the years absolutely rotten, but it never seemed to be enough for them. Stupid women.
"Edward, we're not even thirty yet," I replied finally, once I shook off the stupor his words evoked.
"I will be in a little over six months," he answered, lifting his eyes to me at last. "And I really don't foresee anything changing before then, at least not for me. But if you've changed your mind, I understand."
"I haven't changed my mind, really. I just hadn't thought about it much. I didn't think that either of us were quite there yet," I said nervously with a shrug. "Are you that desperate to have kids that you'd settle for having one with me?"
Edward turned in his seat to face me more and held my hand on his thigh. "It's not desperation, Bella. I never want you to believe for one second that it is. And settling? No, definitely not. I think we could be really good parents together. We get along very well and rarely ever argue. We have similar values when it comes to family. It makes sense."
"But we're not married, Edward. We're not even a couple. We've been down that road before," I replied with a shake of my head.
"We live together. It's really not that much different."
"I doubt my father would agree with that assessment. Or your parents, for that matter. With as religious as your father is? Being a minister, I'm surprised he was even okay with his son sharing an apartment as roommates with a woman, no matter who it was," I pointed out and felt Edward's fingertips shift against my palm. "We didn't really think this plan through back then. It was more like a heat of the moment, situational thing."
Edward's lips pursed, and he hummed in thought—this could be dangerous, I mused. "Then marry me."
My eyes shot open and my breath stilled as I stared at him, gaping with my mouth wide open. "Are you crazy? Our families would see right through that. Be reasonable."
"What's so unreasonable? We've lived together for years. It wouldn't be all that much of a stretch for the imagination that something materialized between us in that time," Edward replied with a shrug, as if it was an obvious answer.
"How about the fact that we've never behaved like a couple at all in the last three years? Or that we made it very clear that we were better off as friends, way back in high school? Or if we meet someone down the line that we want to be with, but we're married to each other? What are we going to do then? Get a divorce and put our kid through the trauma of a broken home?"
"Bella," Edward cut me off, placing his hands on either side of my face. "We were kids back then. We didn't know what we wanted yet. If you believe there is someone else out there for you, I won't say another word about this. But I really think that I could make you happy, if you gave me a chance."
I stared into the serious set of his eyes and my breathing became staggered. He'd never looked at me quite that way before, or even broached the subject of a romantic relationship between us since we were eighteen. Now, he was talking marriage and children, and the prospect of "making me happy." I didn't know what to say, or even what I could.
"You don't have to give me an answer tonight. Just think about it. And as far as the Christmas party, all you have to do is ask. Even if it's just as friends," he said and kissed my cheek, and then collected our wine glasses as he stood to make his way to the kitchen.
"Really?" I asked, and then shook my head quickly and rose to follow him. "I mean, that wasn't what I… I wasn't trying to guilt you into going with me."
Edward turned on the water in the sink to rinse out the glasses, and brought his fingertips to his ear, arching it toward me as if he couldn't hear me. I grabbed the hand towel from the counter and flicked it at his hip with a small growl, but he merely raised his eyebrow. "If you don't ask, I can't answer."
I sighed with a loud groan, though it did feel good to have a moment of normalcy between us again. "Fine, will you go with me to the Christmas party?"
"I don't know, I'll have to check my schedule. It's pretty full, with the holidays and all," he replied in mock thought and then laughed as I lightly kicked the edge of his foot. "Ow. No need to resort to violence. Yes, Bella. I will go to the party with you."
"No matter what?" I asked nervously, slipping my arms through the crook of his elbow and resting my forehead on his bicep.
Edward pressed his lips to the top of my head, and I could feel him nod against me. "No matter what. Nothing like that is going to change, whatever you decide."
That simple statement did relax me some, but the last few minutes were a stark reminder of what we had at stake. I never wanted to lose Edward in any way, let alone destroy everything between us. Just the thought of making things awkward if I declined and demolishing all we shared terrified the living shit out of me.
"Okay, I'm going to bed. The wine is making me sleepy," I said and stepped away, heading to my room and glancing back at him one more time. "And thank you, Edward. For offering to go with me. Goodnight."
"You're welcome. Goodnight," he replied and then turned his attention back to washing the glasses as I hurried down the hall to the sanctuary of my room.