Midnight Delight NYE Contest Entry

Beta: EdwardsFirstKiss

Summary: New Year's Eve – a time of celebration, happiness, and new beginnings. Except for Bella. Each New Year's Eve since the age of 18, Bella has experienced a disaster and is sure she's cursed. When her family forces her to go out this New Year's Eve, she's convinced it'll be no different. What will go wrong this time?

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Awards: 1st Place Public Vote, Host's Choice - GhostReader24

DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.


December 31, 2018

The air was slightly cool as we emerged from the Uber, but the gusty wind bit as it whipped through my clothing. Rosalie and I stepped onto the sidewalk to wait for Emmett as he talked with the driver for a moment. The short, hunter green sequined dress I wore barely provided any cover from the wind. The hem fell to mid-thigh, and while it had three-quarter length sleeves, the back of the dress was cut out and rested just above the base of my spine. I'd paired the dress with nude two-inch heels elevating me only slightly, but that was still quite a bit for me. My outfit was a far cry from my usual day-to-day attire of hiking boots, jeans, t-shirts or flannels, and a parka, but it made me feel feminine. When I'd looked in the mirror this evening at the final product with my long brunette hair out of a ponytail for the first time in months hanging in long waves down my exposed back and a light touch of makeup on my face, I thought I looked stunning.

As beautiful as I felt tonight though, standing next to my best friend always put a bit of a damper on my self-confidence. Standing at 5'11", she towered over me by half a foot. Her four-inch, red spike heels added to that height difference tonight. They matched her bright red mini dress that hugged every curve and was sure to catch every guy's eye. She wouldn't care though. She only cared about one man. I smiled as her husband, my big brother, shut the door to the SUV and came over swooping her into his arms and spinning her in a circle. She admonished him but couldn't stop the smile from spreading on her face or a giggle from escaping. I loved seeing them together, but it caused a longing in my heart of hearts. I hope I can have that one day.

"It's cold as balls out here," Emmett said as he sat Rosalie down gently. I rolled my eyes. I guess it was cold to their standards but after spending the last four months in these kinds of temperatures, or colder, I didn't think it was too bad. "Come on, ladies. Work your magic and get us inside, baby."

"I can't believe I let you two talk me into this," I bemoaned once more.

"Bella," Rosalie admonished. "You are not New Year's Eve cursed. Just because you've had a few not so pleasant experiences on New Year's Eve-"

"Not so pleasant experiences?" I could hear Emmett laughing already. "It's not funny, Em."

"Bella, it's going to be fine. I promise. Nothing's going to happen. We're going into that club. We're going to drink, dance, have fun, and we're going to find you a guy to kiss at midnight."

Without giving me a chance to protest or say another word, she took my hand, and we walked toward the door. There was a small line that had formed, but she greeted the man at the door by name. As the Promotions Director at one of the local radio stations, she was a well-connected individual. They chatted for a few moments before he ushered us inside to a few protests from those waiting in line. The bass of the music was thumping off the walls and the sea of people was swaying already. The owner of the club met us inside and greeted Rosalie enthusiastically. After a few words, he led us to the VIP area where he gave us a table and then motioned for a server who took our drink orders, which I was definitely going to need for courage.

"What do you think?" Rosalie asked as she leaned toward me to be heard over the music. "Have any of the guys caught your eye yet?" I shrugged.

"There are so many people," I answered. She laughed.

"You've been in Iceland-"

"The Faroe Islands."

"Excuse me." She held her hands in surrender, but the sincerity was negated by the eye roll that accompanied it. "You've been in The Faroe Islands for the last four months where they barely have any people."

"Hey!" I looked at her sharply. Did she even listen during our conversations? "There's a population of over 50,000 people in-"

"Bella, there are over 3 million here in Seattle!" She stopped and shook her head. "That's not the point. You're back in civilization now, and you're here for a while! Let's find you a guy to kiss at midnight. Maybe you can even take him home and-"

"Rose!" I felt warmth spread up my neck and over my cheeks, but it had nothing to do with the drink in my hand.

"Babe," Emmett interrupted her. "Can you please not go there? That's my sister you're talking about."

"She's a grown woman," Rosalie defended and paused to take a shot of tequila. "She's 25-years-old. Do you really think she's still a virgin? She's a mature, sexual being. She can-"

"Stop! Stop! Stop!" He stood up, took her hand, and pulled her to stand. "We're going to dance and stop thinking about my baby sister in that way. Bella." He looked over at me then immediately averted his eyes, but I couldn't blame him. I didn't want to look at him either. "We'll be back. Don't get into any trouble while we're gone."

Rosalie smiled as Emmett pulled her onto the dance floor and pressed her close against him. That was where I stopped watching though. Those two were indecent together, even in public. You would think after two kids they would tone it down, but that didn't damper their desire for each other. I ordered another drink and once I began sipping it, I could feel the effects start to warm me. I needed to pace myself. I hadn't had anything to drink while on the islands since it had been a work trip, so the alcohol was affecting me pretty quickly.

"Uh, hey," I heard, and looked to my left. A nervous looking man was standing there with a drink in one hand and his other stuffed into his back pocket. I smiled.

"Hi."

"Nice party, huh?"

"I guess." I had to shout. "It's pretty loud." He nodded.

"Do you, uh, do you want to dance?" I didn't really want to dance, but I didn't want to be rude either. He was brave enough to approach me, and he was kind of cute in the boy-next-door kind of way.

"I've got time for a dance." I stood and sat my drink on the table. "I'm Bella by the way."

"I'm Nate."

He motioned towards the dance floor, and I made my way there. We didn't spend much time talking. There were too many people, and the music was louder here since we were closer to the speakers. I saw Rosalie once, and she gave me a thumbs up. I just rolled my eyes. Despite my reluctance to join in tonight, I found myself having a good time letting loose. I absolutely loved my job, but the work trips didn't allow for much down time. This was a nice reprieve. After a few songs, I thanked Nate and made my way back to the table. Rosalie was smiling mischievously.

"See!" she exclaimed. "Your New Year's Eves are not cursed. You found a guy to kiss at midnight."

"Nate was nice, but I don't think I'll be kissing him at midnight," I said as I took the new drink she offered me. "And the night's not over. Don't jinx me. The curse is real whether you want to believe it or not."

Over the next hour, I had a great time hanging out with Rosalie and Emmett catching up with them about what had been going on in their lives while I'd been gone. She told me about my beautiful nieces Jozie, who had started second grade, and Delilah, who had started kindergarten. I was so excited that I was going to get to spend time with them over the next six months. Between talking about the girls, I danced with a few more guys and spent some time dancing with Rosalie too. Before she married my brother, we'd been friends. I'd actually introduced them. It was nice to just be us again.

"We've got about two hours before the clock strikes," Rosalie said after taking what was probably her fifth shot in the last hour. I didn't know where she got her tolerance from. "Let's hit the dance floor again and find your midnight kiss guy." She took my hand and pulled me to my feet.

"I'm okay with not kissing someone at midnight, Rose," I told her. "Can't you just leave it be?" She shook her head and continued to the dance floor that was packed.

We found a spot near the edge where some people were gathered near cocktail tables and began dancing. I tuned out the group around me and just enjoyed the music. However, halfway through the song, there was a commotion nearby. I tried to ignore it because it sounded like people arguing. I didn't need anything bringing my mood down. A few minutes later, I was unable to ignore it any longer. I turned to see what was going on. Just as I turned, someone was shoved into me. I was unsteady on my feet already, so when his momentum knocked me sideways, I fell. I heard Rosalie yell my name just before my head struck the edge of a table. I didn't have time to think about it before I was on the ground and pain bloomed in my arm as well.

"Bella. Bella." I could hear Rosalie, but she sounded so far off. "Bella, I need you to answer me." Everything hurt.

"I'm so sorry."

"Back the fuck off, asshole." I would have laughed at Rosalie's indignation if I didn't feel like I needed to throw up.

"Bells," Emmett's worried voice sounded a little closer. "Sissy, open your eyes." As soon as I did, the room began to spin. "How many fingers?" I tried to focus on his hand in front of my face.

"Four," I said then groaned as the throbbing intensified.

"Hospital it is. Rose, grab your things and have your friend call us a cab please." My stomach churned once more, and I reached to grab it forgetting I'd hurt my arm. A whimper escaped me. "Oh Bells, that's already swelling. What am I going to do with you, kid?" I closed my eyes not able to focus anymore. "Come on, Bella. Wake up. Open your eyes." Everything was so hazy.

"Sir, we're taking her to Virginia Mason." There were paramedics around me, and I was on a stretcher. How? I must have passed out.

"Bella, we'll meet you at the hospital," Rosalie said as I drifted off again.

An hour later, things were much clearer. I had drifted in and out during the ride to the hospital. Once we arrived, I was taken directly into the ER since I had a head injury. I remember a doctor introducing himself and mentioning some tests, but my arrival was blurry and the details were hazy. A nurse helped me change into a hospital gown, blood was drawn for labs, and I was taken for a CAT scan and x-ray before being left in a room where Emmett and Rosalie were waiting for me. Emmett immediately jumped into brother-bear mode asking rapid-fire questions that I couldn't answer. Rosalie tried to calm him down. Luckily, we were quickly interrupted by the doctor's return.

"Ms. Swan, I have your test results." He looked up from the films in his hand to see more people in the room. "Oh, visitors. Hi, I'm Dr. Edward Cullen." I looked at him with clear eyes for the first time. The tall doctor with the soothing voice was quite handsome. He had a strong jaw with sharp features. His hair was the most intriguing shade of bronze and made his jade eyes pop.

"I'm Emmett, her brother, and this is my wife, Rosalie." They shook hands. "Is she okay?"

"Everything's pointing in that direction at the moment." He turned his attention back to me. "How are you feeling? You look a bit more alert than you did when we first met."

"Things are clearer now," I confirmed.

"Excuse me." He motioned to where Emmett was standing. "I need to examine Ms. Swan." My brother hurried out of the way so Dr. Cullen could step closer. He took a penlight from his pocket clicking it on. "Look straight ahead, please." It was bright, so I tried not to squint too much. He removed the light and held up a finger. "Pupillary reaction is much better than earlier. Follow with just your eyes, please." I did as he asked. "Focus is better too. Okay. Look straight ahead and tell me when you can see my finger enter your field of vision." I waited until I could see it from the corner of my eye.

"Now. Now. Now. Now."

"Good. Periphery seems unhindered." He reached forward and removed the neck brace. "You won't be needing this. Scans were clear of any neck injury." I reached up and rubbed my neck once the brace was gone. "Do you remember what happened?"

"Someone knocked me over, and I hit my head on a table. When I hit the ground, I hurt my arm." He hummed as he watched me closely. "When's your birthday?"

"September 13th."

"Do you know what year it is?"

"2018. Or is it 2019? I feel like this is a trick question. I don't know how long I've been here." He, Emmett, and Rosalie all chuckled.

"Perhaps that wasn't a fair question on this particular night. It's still 2018, for the next 20 minutes at least." He reached for the films he had laid on the bed beside my legs, turned so he was facing the same direction as me, and held them up to the light. "Your head scans didn't show anything to be concerned about. You just have a slight concussion. These are the x-rays of your wrist and forearm." He reached up to point to a particular spot on the scan. "This shows a hairline fracture of the ulna and this one shows a fracture of the scaphoid bone in your wrist." He laid the film back down on the bed and picked up my chart. "Are you right handed?" I nodded but had to stop and close my eyes when the motion caused the room to spin. The dizziness made me feel unsteady, so I reached to brace myself with my left hand against the railing as a bout of nausea rolled through me.

"Are you okay?" Dr. Cullen's hands settled on my arms and gripped my gently but firmly. It felt like a small charge of electricity traveled through me starting from where his skin was touching mine.

"Yes." I took a slow, deep breath before opening my eyes to meet his concerned ones. "Shaking my head made me dizzy. That's all." He slowly released his grip on me but remained close for a moment until he was sure I was steady.

"That's a side effect of the concussion. You'll need to be careful for a while. It should dissipate over the next few hours, perhaps up to a day at the most. If you're still experiencing those same symptoms in two days though, I'd prefer you return to be checked out. Okay?"

"Okay." He smiled before he picked my chart up again and scribbling something on it. "You will need a cast for 6 weeks. As for your head, you need a few stitches to close up the wound." I groaned. "I'm sorry. I'm sure this isn't how you imagined spending your New Year's Eve."

"Oh, this is par for the course." He looked at me strangely. "My New Year's Eves are cursed. I told them I shouldn't have gone out, but they didn't listen. See where it got me?" I turned to give Emmett and Rosalie the stink eye.

"Cursed, huh?" He looked from me to them with an amused smile. "Give me a few minutes to gather supplies and then I'll be back. As for you two," he said as he turned to Emmett and Rosalie, "you are welcome to join the rest of the staff at the charge desk just outside the room. They are handing out champagne in the form of sparkling cider when the ball drops at midnight." He turned back to me with an apologetic look on his face. "I hope you're okay with having me for company instead." I tried not to grin too wide as I shrugged instead. He wasn't out of the room for two seconds before Rose was in my personal space with a huge grin on her face.

"Well, hello, Dr. Cullen," she said salaciously.

"Rosie, please," Emmett groaned.

"Your brother and I are going to ring in the new year out there." She pointed towards the charge desk. "That way you and the good doctor can ring in the new year in here." She grabbed Emmett's hand and pulled him toward the door. She left me with parting words in a sing-song voice. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

It didn't take long for Dr. Cullen to return with a tray full of supplies. He rolled them next to the bed and then pulled a stool over as well telling me what he would be doing and what medication he planned to prescribe. He washed his hands and pulled on some gloves before taking a seat and getting to work on the head wound first. He started by numbing the area which stung, but I knew it was needed.

"So, this curse," he said as he reached up to begin the first stitch. "Feel like sharing?" I sighed.

"You have to promise not to laugh," I started. He smiled, and I could tell he wanted to chuckle. He held it in though.

"Scout's honor."

"Were you even a scout?"

"An Eagle scout, actually. Therefore, it's a promise." I eyed him carefully before I gave it.

"It started when I was 18. I had decided to go to a New Year's Eve party just off campus with my roommate. Since it wasn't too far from the dorm, we decided to walk. A few blocks from the party, I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and sprained my ankle."

"Ouch."

"Yeah. I spent midnight in the ER that year too." I hissed when he tugged on a particularly sensitive area.

"I'm sorry. Just one more stitch left." He quickly finished before cleaning off the last of the dried blood and snapping off his gloves. "These can be taken out in ten days. You can make an appointment to come back and have them removed. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Now, for your cast. What color do you want? Any preference?"

"Green." I blushed when I realized what I'd said. I hadn't even thought about it before blurting it out.

"Green it is." I watched as he prepped the material. "So, you tripped on New Year's Eve at age 18. Surely that one instance doesn't constitute a curse."

"It wasn't just once. The next year at age 19, my roommate invited me to watch fireworks at her parent's lake house. They hosted a party every year, and she swore the firework show was the best I would ever see. Just before midnight, her dad offered to let us take the boat out to watch the show on the water, so she drove us a few hundred yards offshore and anchored." Voices from outside the room became louder as more people started to gather. It was getting closer to midnight. "Precisely at midnight the show started and lasted about forty-five minutes. She was right, too; it was spectacular. Then during the finale, something went wrong. One of the fireworks went rogue. It came straight at us. I just froze. It landed next to me and caught my dress on fire." He had stopped working on my cast.

"You're kidding."

"No. We tried putting it out, but I had to jump into the water. Remember, it was New Year's Eve, so the water was freezing. I ended up with second-degree burns on my left hip and ribcage." I looked between his shocked face and the cast that was only half done. My glance finally pulled his attention back to the task at hand.

"Sorry; I'm just a bit stunned."

"So was I." We were quiet as he quickly finished the cast. Just as he completed it, we heard everyone begin to count down from ten. He moved to wash and dry his hands. Three…two…one. He reached into his front pocket and handed me a Hershey kiss.

"Happy New Year." I took the candy from his outstretched hand with a small smile.

"Thank you. Happy New Year."

"So, what happened at age 20?" He pulled the table of supplies around, moved everything to one side and leaned against it to continue our conversation.

"Oh, um, 20. Right." I had to get back on track. "Well, I thought I'd be smart and not go out. My oldest niece, Jozie, was two, and Rosalie had just had Delilah a few months before. I offered to watch the girls so they could have a night out. It was going to be great. We'd get to spend time together, and then I'd put them to bed, watch some TV, and ring in the New Year on the couch away from any kind of danger."

"It didn't quite go as planned, though, did it?" He didn't ask in a mocking tone. It almost sounded sympathetic.

"No." I sighed remembering that awful night. "The moment they left the house, both girls starting screaming and crying their heads off, and they didn't stop until five minutes before Emmett and Rosalie returned. Five. Whole. Hours." I watched as he covered his mouth, but I could see his cheeks lift. "You promised not to laugh." He held up both hands in surrender and bit his lip. "It's not funny." There was a glint in his eye. Okay, that one may have been a bit funny. I fought to keep my own smile off my face.

"I'm not laughing."

"You want to." He opened his mouth but wisely snapped it shut.

"We need to move on. Age 21?" We were interrupted before I could continue by the door opening and Emmett and Rosalie coming inside.

"Happy New Year!" Rosalie exclaimed and kissed my cheek. I returned the sentiment and looked over to Dr. Cullen. He had stood and moved everything out of the way. "Green?" I looked back at her in confusion. "The cast."

"Yes. Green," I told her with enough force to make sure she wouldn't say more. She raised one eyebrow at me but remained silent.

"Ms. Swan," Dr. Cullen said from the door. "I'm going to work on your discharge. I'll be back with your paperwork and instructions in just a bit. Feel free to change back into your own clothes." He smiled before leaving and closing the door behind him gently.

"Tell me, tell me, tell me," Rosalie said as she sat on the bed next to me. "What happened while we were gone?"

"Can you help me change first?" I slowly stood from the hospital bed, and Rosalie held onto my arm to keep me steady. Emmett turned around as she helped me slip out of the hospital gown and tug the dress back on. Once back in my own clothes, she helped me sit back on the bed once more.

"Now onto the good stuff. What happened with the good doctor while we were out?"

"Nothing happened," I told her exasperatedly. "He was busy putting in stitches in my head and setting my cast."

"The whole time?" I wanted to deny it, but she could read me like an open book. "I knew it! Give me the deets girl."

"We just talked. He asked about the curse." She scoffed. "Don't."

"What's that?" She pointed to the candy I had placed in my lap. I smiled.

"It's a, uh. It's a New Year's kiss."

"A what?" Emmett's question was laced with barely concealed venom.

"God, this just keeps getting better," Rosalie said with a laugh completely ignoring my brother.

"He kissed you?" She looked at her husband sharply.

"Shut up, Emmett." She turned back to me, her face transforming instantly. "Did you give him your number?"

"He didn't ask for it," I told her with a sigh. "It's not like that, Rose. He's just being nice."

"Please, he's totally into you. He just hadn't had a chance to ask for it yet."

"There's no way he's single. He's probably married with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence." She was shaking her head before I finished talking.

"There was no ring on his finger, and he wouldn't have given you that," she pointed to my chocolate, "if he had a girlfriend." I closed my eyes and sighed.

"I don't have the mental capacity for this conversation right now." Emmett snorted from his chair in the corner.

"If you can say that, you have the mental capacity," he muttered, but I heard him.

"You're not helping. You're my big brother. Shouldn't you be on my side?"

"She's my wife and has the power to cut me off. I don't intend to go without." I rolled my eyes but groaned when my head throbbed.

"Emmett, honey, can you butt out of this conversation, please?" Rose said saccharinely. "This is between us girls." She turned back to me. "So, here's the plan." I blew out a breath preparing myself for what was to come. I wouldn't be able to stop her; I just had to listen. "When he comes back with the discharge instructions, Emmett and I will make ourselves scarce. We'll…go get the car."

"We came in a cab." It only took one slow head swivel and what I imagined was a scathing look. "Got it. Shutting up."

"While we're gone, you've got to close the deal. Give him your number. Make plans to see him again. Do something to secure a second meeting. Okay?"

"I'm not having this conversation."

"Bella! He's so into-" A knock at the door cut her off. Dr. Cullen came in with his hands full. "We'll be back after we get the car." I would have rolled my eyes again if I knew it wouldn't cause me pain. "Dr. Cullen, about how long do you need?"

"Oh, um, fifteen minutes?" he said, but it sounded more like a question.

"We weren't able to get a close parking spot, so that works better for us." She stood and motioned for Emmett to join her. He looked at me reluctantly before sighing and following his wife out of the room. "See you in 15 minutes, Bells. Maybe 20."

"I'm really sorry about them," I apologized once the door had closed. "I'd try to give you an explanation, but the truth is, there's just no explanation for those two. We'll just say they don't get out much." He chuckled before walking over and taking a seat on the bed facing me.

"I have a brother I can't really explain sometimes too. I understand," he said sympathetically. I smiled at his cheekiness. He held the papers in his hands out for me. "These are instructions for your concussion, the stitches, and the cast."

He spent time going over them with me ensuring any questions I had were answered. Admittedly though, I didn't have many questions. With my job, stitches were normal. This was the first cast I'd ever had to wear, but it was fairly easy. Just don't get it wet. After reviewing the instructions, he handed over two pill bottles. He pointed out that one contained pain pills and the other contained an anti-nausea medication. I was happy to see those. The nausea hadn't completely subsided yet.

"I guess that's about all I need to go over with you if you don't have any other questions." I shook my head once, too much of a coward to do what Rose had said and ask to see him again. "One second." He left and returned with a wheelchair. I groaned. "Hospital rules." He helped me from the bed and kept me steady as I gingerly lowered myself into the seat. Once settled, he gathered my paperwork and medications to hand to me. I placed them in my lap and startled slightly when he took my hands in his once they were free. "I'm sorry."

"What?" I had no idea what he could be apologizing for.

"This is probably horrible timing and completely inappropriate. I don't mean to overstep my bounds, but I have to ask. And I think I'm safe in assuming you don't have a boyfriend or else he'd have brought you here rather than your family. We were having a great conversation, and I feel like I'm invested in your story now." He chuckled. "I don't want this to be the last time I see you. I want to get to know you more. I want to see you again. Can I take you to dinner?" I was stunned. He wanted to see me again? I must have hesitated a bit too long. "See, I knew it was inappropriate." He sighed and began to pull his hands away, but I gripped them before he broke contact.

"Yes. Wait no!" I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before meeting his hesitant eyes. "No, it wasn't inappropriate. Yes, you can take me to dinner." It took a second to register then a crooked smile overtook his face that made my heart stutter.

"Great. That's wonderful." He pulled his hands away to dig in his pocket. Eventually, he pulled his phone out and tapped away at the screen. "May I have your number? I'm working until mid-morning then I'm off for a few days. I can call you later to set something up if that's okay." I gave him my number, and he saved it before taking my phone and saving his number as well. "Well, as much as I'd like to continue this conversation, you need to get some rest, and I have other patients I need to stop neglecting."

"Of course!" I motioned for him to leave the room. "Please don't let me keep you from your job."

"Do you think they will be back soon, or should I push you to the door?" I blushed.

"Probably the door." I hated admitting it, but if he didn't help me to the door, I'd probably be here another twenty minutes.

"I appreciate their discretion." His confession warmed me, and all I could do was to smile at him. He moved behind the chair and gently maneuvered me out of the room. He stopped at the desk long enough to drop off my chart then proceeded to the automatic doors at the end of the hall. Rosalie and Emmett were in the waiting room to the right. I groaned when I heard a chuckle behind me.

"Subtlety is not their specialty." I sighed. "Just leave me here. I'll get their attention, and we'll be on our way. Maybe the cab isn't too far away." He walked around until he was in front of me then knelt down.

"I hate that you were hurt tonight, but I'm thankful I got to meet you."

"Me too." He smiled that crooked grin again which made my stomach flutter.

"I'll call you soon. Happy New Year, Bella." He took my hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"Happy New Year."

~Cursed at Midnight~

Rose insisted I stay the night at their house since I had a concussion. I tried to tell her I would be fine, but she wasn't hearing it. The girls were asleep when we arrived back at the house, and the babysitter was passed out on the couch with the baby monitor in her hand. Cara had been watching the girls for the last three years when Em and Rose needed time away. Rose was already dreading next Fall when Cara went off to college. Rose woke her, thanking her profusely for staying so late. I fished out a few twenty -dollar bills from my purse and handed them over to Cara. It was my fault she still wasn't home at 2:00am. Emmett stood on the porch and watched her walk home, which was three houses down the street.

It didn't take long to fall asleep. I was exhausted, and the pain and nausea medication made me drowsy as well. I probably could have slept all day, but my alarm woke me at 9:00am. Being back in a routine would help me readjust to the time zone, so I'd set the alarm before crashing. When I woke, both my arm and head were throbbing in tandem. I took more medication before heading to the kitchen to start breakfast. That wasn't too smart of a thought though. With only one working hand, I didn't get very far. When Emmett entered the kitchen half an hour later, I'd only managed to crack eggs and put the ingredients on the counter for pancakes.

"Morning, sis," he greeted enthusiastically.

"Hi." He stopped beside me surveying everything I'd set out. "I wanted to make breakfast for everyone, but I forgot I'm temporarily crippled." He chuckled then ruffled my hair. I pulled away as I batted at his hand making him laugh out loud.

"Sit down, squirt. I've got this." I pulled myself onto a barstool across from him and watched as he pulled bacon from the fridge and fried it, putting it in the oven to keep warm once it was cooked. After that, he started on the eggs. "How do you feel this morning?"

"It's still painful, but my head feels clear at least." I took the glass of orange juice he poured and held out for me to take.

"You had me worried when you saw more fingers than I was holding up." I nodded even though he wasn't looking at me.

"I was a little worried too." I took a deep breath and let it out harshly. "It's okay, though. I'm okay." He chuckled lowly.

"Maybe you are cursed."

"I told-"

"Aunt Bella!" Jozie and Delilah's screams interrupted us. I turned as the two girls ran over throwing their arms around me. I hugged them back tightly.

"What happened to your arm?"

"You have an ouchie on your head."

"Are you okay?"

"Can I sign your cast? Johnny at school broke his arm, and we got to write on his cast with a marker. Can I draw a picture on yours? Is your arm broken?"

"Woah! Woah! Woah!" I waved my hands, or hand really, to slow down their rapid-fire questions. "I'm okay. I fell last night, bumped my head, and yes, I broke my arm. Your mom and dad took me to see a doctor, and he fixed me up. I'm going to be okay. Promise." They nodded.

"So excited to see Aunt Bella, but no one's happy to see Dad. I see how it is," Emmett scoffed as he heated the griddle. Both girls giggled and rushed around the island to hug him. He lifted both girls and hugged them tightly to his chest as he peppered their faces with kisses making them giggle louder as they yelled at him to stop.

"Is Daddy attacking you?" Rose asked brightly as she entered the kitchen. She walked over and joined Emmett in assaulting the girls with kisses. I smiled watching the picture-perfect family moment. "Okay, girls. Leave Daddy alone so he can finish breakfast." Rose walked over and gently threw an arm around my shoulders. "How are you feeling?" The girls hurried out of the room talking about what TV show they were going to watch.

"I'm okay. Did you sleep okay?" I looked up to see her smirking.

"Eventually."

"Ugh, Rose, I don't want to hear it." She snorted before moving away and getting plates and silverware set out. "So, what's the plan for today? Please tell me we're staying in."

"I don't have-" My phone rang interrupting Emmett. Rosalie, the closest person to it, picked it up as I held my hand out. She smirked then answered my phone. "Hey, Chief!" I smiled. Dad had a soft spot for Rosalie, even when we were friends in school. When Emmett and she began dating, dad was happy. When they got married, he was ecstatic. They chatted for a few minutes about the recent Redskins and Patriots game. Dad preferred baseball, but he enjoyed football too. "Well, I guess I'll pass you over to Bella. Hopefully we can get up to see you soon."

"Happy New Year, Dad," I cheered into the phone after taking it from Rosalie.

"Well, happy New Year, Baby Girl." I smiled at his endearment. He'd been calling me that for as long as I could remember.

"I'm sorry I didn't call you last night like usual." It was a little cool, so I pulled my feet onto the stool hoping to save body heat.

"Aw, Bells, it's okay. I was pretty busy last night. We set up a traffic stop out on 101 by Newton's to check for drunk drivers." I couldn't stop myself from snorting.

"Busy, huh? Not exactly a word I would use to describe Forks." He grumbled but didn't comment further. My head throbbed slightly, so I reached for the pain medication I'd sat on the counter last night. It was better to take something now in case this was gearing up to be a more serious headache. "Well, do you have plans today?"

"Uh, um, no?" I paused for a moment at his suddenly nervous tone. That was odd.

"Are you asking me?"

"No. No; no plans. I may have to go into the station at some point. I've got Waylon locked up, and he'll need to be released once he's sobered up." I rolled my eyes. Waylon was always a problem. Charlie. Wait. Was that-

"Dad? Is someone there?" It sounded like a woman's voice coming from his end of the line. Emmett and Rosalie had been having a quiet conversation, but at my question they both turned to look at me with curiosity.

"Why would you think that?"

"I thought I heard your name." He chuckled, but it almost sounded nervous. There was a moment of shuffling on his end. "It was so strange, almost sounded like…" Not wanting to upset him, I just trailed off.

"Like what, Baby Girl?"

"Well, it kind of sounded…I know it's not possible, but it just sounded eerily like…mom." An expletive floated through the phone just before it sounded like the receiver clattered to the ground. "Dad?" It took a few seconds before his voice came through the line again.

"You there, Bells? I dropped the phone." I smiled at his flustered tone.

"Yeah, I'm here."

"Is everything okay down your way? What'd the curse cause this year?" His tone was teasing, but I think he believed me more than anyone else.

"Well, I have a slight concussion, and I fractured my arm last night."

"What?" His alarm was immediate. "What happened to cause you to get a concussion and break your arm?" I thought I heard rushed whispering, but I couldn't make anything out.

"Dad, is someone there?" Rosalie walked around the counter and pressed her head to mine so she could hear what was happening on the other end of the line.

"The TV is on. Now tell me what happened. Are you okay?"

"I'm going to be fine. There was a little mishap. Someone bumped into me, and I fell. Emmett and Rosalie were with me and took me go to the hospital to get checked out. I was cleared to leave after tests, a few stitches, and a cast for my arm. So, see! The curse is real. This is eight years in a row something has happened." I thought I heard a chuckle but brushed it off. There was no telling what was on the TV. "Well, I just wanted to give you a call, and say Happy New Year. Also, I was thinking about bringing Jozie and Delilah up for a visit this weekend. Do you think you can get some time off and forgo a fishing trip to see us?"

"Uhh…" He was acting so strange. "Ummm…" My eyebrows shot up when I could tell he held his hand over the receiver to muffle his voice as he spoke with someone else. A woman! He had a woman over there! Rosalie gasped, covered her mouth, and pointed at the phone. "Come on up, Bells."

"Dad," I whispered. "Do you have company?" He sighed, and Emmett finally tuned into the conversation sensing something was going on.

"We'll talk about it when you get here. Okay?" I smiled widely, giddy at both his unease with the conversation and the thought that maybe he'd finally found someone to share his life with. He deserved to be happy. I giggled.

"Okay, Daddy. I'll let you go since you're obviously preoccupied." He groaned, and I covered my mouth to stifle another giggle. "Love you, old man."

"Love you too, Baby Girl. Call me later this week to let me know what time you'll be here so I can make sure to be home." I was nodding even though he couldn't see me. He ended the call before I could think of something else to say.

"The Chief so has a woman over," Rosalie said giddily. "You have to talk to him about it when you go up with the girls!"

"Dad's dating!" I couldn't believe it. We'd been telling him he should find someone to spend his time with for years. Seems like he was finally taking our advice.

"I wonder who-" My ringing phone interrupted Emmett. Rosalie glanced at the screen and smiled mischievously.

"Well, well, well. Lookie at who's calling," she sang. I flushed when I looked at the screen to see the name Edward Cullen flashing. I stood up to leave them room before answering. "Stay! I want to hear." I stuck my tongue out at her before scurrying into the study and answering the phone.

"Hello?" I asked tentatively, still shocked. I thought I might have imagined the good-looking doctor. Apparently not.

"Hi, Bella? It's Edward," he said tentatively. "Edward Cullen."

"Hi, Edward. I'm glad to hear from you." I sat in the chair behind the desk pulling my feet into the chair.

"It's good to hear your voice. How are you feeling this morning?"

"I'm okay. My head it clear, but my arm hurts a little."

"Take the pain medication. It's important to stay ahead of the pain so it doesn't become overwhelming." He sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to go into doctor-mode." I smiled.

"It's okay. I took the pain meds when I woke up this morning. I promise to follow doctor's orders." He groaned then chuckled. "Speaking of doctor…didn't you just get off work?"

"My shift ended about thirty minutes ago. I just got home."

"You must be exhausted."

"My bed is definitely calling. Before I go to sleep though, I wanted to call you."

"It's nice of you to check on me."

"Well, I did want to check on you, but that wasn't the main purpose of my call." I hummed. "Can I take you out to dinner tonight?" I was so glad he wasn't in front of me to see the grin that was trying to split my face.

"I would love too, but are you sure you don't need more time to recover from work?"

"No." His answer was rushed. "No, I'll be fine. Is there anywhere particular you like?"

"Not really. Maybe just some place quiet."

"Absolutely. Can I pick you up at 7:00?" I nodded then rolled my eyes when I realized he couldn't see me so I answered verbally.

"I'll text you my address if that's okay." At that moment, Delilah ran into the room and only stopped when she was standing in front of me.

"Aunt Bella, Daddy says food is ready. Come eat," she said excitedly. "He made smiley face pancakes." Edward chuckled through the phone.

"I'll let you go, Bella. Smiley face pancakes are serious business." I held my finger up to my niece's face. "Text me your address, and I'll see you tonight."

"I'm looking forward to it. I'll see you later."

"Bye, Bella." Delilah was bouncing in her spot.

"Bye, Edward." Delilah stopped bouncing as I hung up the phone.

"Who was that?" Delilah asked as she tilted her head to the side.

"Did I hear you say smiley face pancakes?" She took the bait, and her attention was averted.

"Yes! With bananas and blueberries and strawberries. Come on! Come on!" She grabbed my uninjured hand and pulled me to my feet leading me to the dining room where Emmett, Rose, and Jozie were seated.

~Cursed at Midnight~

The smile plastered on my face was probably going to be permanent. Although I could still feel a few effects from the concussion, it wasn't enough to keep me from my date with Edward. I'd asked that he keep it low-key since I wasn't sure how I'd feel, and he'd picked a beautiful, quiet restaurant for us to have dinner. Even though I'd lived in Seattle for seven years, I'd never been to this one and was pleasantly surprised. The company was top-notch as well.

"Your brother sounds like a riot," Edward said as his laughing finally subsided.

"Please don't tell him that," I said, chuckling to myself at the memory of when we were younger. "It'll just encourage him, and he's already too much to handle." I smiled fondly as I thought about how close we were growing up. "Despite that, he's someone I would want around in a bind. He's always taken care of me, and I know he'll always be there for me if I need him." The waiter brought our appetizers and refilled our drinks. "Tell me about your family. Any siblings beside the brother you mentioned?" He nodded and answered after swallowing his food.

"Just one brother. Jasper is three years younger than me, but we're close. It wasn't always that way though. We didn't become close until he joined me at UW. We had an apartment together, and I guess being away from home, out of our natural element, gave us a chance to bond. His last year of college, he got married. Then one year after that, along came my nephew, Bryson. He's six now."

"Right in the middle of Jozie and Delilah!" He smiled.

"So, you know how exhausting kids can be." I giggled at his look of exasperation. "Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with Bryson. He keeps me young and fit, having to chase after him. Jasper, uh, he's divorced now; it was finalized just under a year ago. He has full custody of Bryson, so I help out as much as I can by picking him up from school when I'm off and keeping him for a few hours. I also try to keep him over the weekend at least once a month to give Jasper a little bit of a reprieve." His confession was endearing. It was a glimpse into the sort of man he was, a kind and caring man.

"That's very generous of you." Edward shrugged but couldn't meet my eyes. "It's not generous. It's just the right thing to do." If I didn't already like what'd I'd seen from him so far, and I did; this would have clenched it.

"Well." I cleared my throat from the emotion. "Jozie and Delilah run me ragged when I have them for the weekend."

"Yeah?" I told him about the weekend I'd kept the girls and thought it'd be a great idea to take them to the aquarium by myself.

We were interrupted once more by the waiter bringing our entrees. We paused long enough for the food to be placed on the table and to thank our server. The dishes were wonderful. The first few minutes were spent in silence enjoying our meals. Edward offered to let me try his steak. I was embarrassed by the moan that came out of me when the flavor hit my tongue. I let him try my salmon and he complimented the fish. It was good, but his steak was better.

"My mom's birthday is in a few weeks," Edward said between bites. "I'll have to bring her here."

"No birthday party?" My mom insisted on a party each year we were with her for that weekend.

"We'll have a small get-together that will include presents and a cake even though she insists it's not necessary. When I was seventeen, though, after I got my first job, I took my mom to dinner for her birthday. It's sort of been a tradition ever since." He shrugged. "Can't break a 14-year tradition, now can I?" Was he real? Did men like him really exist? "Do, uh, do I have something in my teeth?" His question brought my back to the present. I must have zoned out a bit.

"No." I shook my head. "No, sorry. That's…amazing. I love that you have that close of a relationship with your mom. Are you close with your dad too?" He nodded.

"We're all very close. Jasper and I try to go to our parents' for dinner at least once a week. They enjoy having us back in the house. Mom says it's too quiet with us gone. When she starts to get sentimental, Jasper leaves Bryson with them for the night." He chuckled. "Her tune is always different the next morning." I laughed along with him. "She always-" Edward stopped when the waiter appeared and took our empty plates away from the table.

"Would you like to look over the dessert menu?" he asked.

"No, thank you. I'll take the check when you have a chance, please."

"Yes, sir." Edward turned to me once the waiter disappeared. "I hope you don't mind, but there's a place near here that has the best desserts. I'd like to take you there." I nodded. "Anyway, that's my mom in a nutshell. Dad's more laid back. He has a great time with Bryson, says it makes him younger." The waiter returned with the bill. I turned to get my wallet from my purse which was hanging on the back of the chair. I startled slightly when I felt Edward's hand come to rest on mine that was on the table. I turned back to meet his gaze. "I'm the one that invited you to dinner. I'm taking care of the bill."

"Thank you." He nodded and then removed his hand before slipping cash into the folder.

"Ready for the next stop?"

"I am if you are."

He stood and moved to my side of the table pulling my jacket from the chair. Once I stood, he held it out for me. I slipped my arms in and looked down to button it. Edward gently pulled my hair from my jacket then let his hands linger on my shoulders. The tender, intimate action caused my stomach to flutter. After donning his own jacket, he took my hand in his and led me outside and to his car. Being a gentleman, something I was learning was natural for him, he opened the door for me and helped me lower into the seat before closing the door and hurrying to the driver's side. He was quiet as he maneuvered onto the street.

"So, tell me about your parents," he said as he pulled into traffic.

"My parents split up when Emmett and I were young," I confessed. I always hated this conversation because most people didn't know how to respond. "We stayed with dad and visited mom a few times a year. Dad's very grounded and a homebody. He's the Chief of Police for our hometown, so that should explain him a bit." Edward chuckled, but it sounded a tad nervous. "Mom." I let out a long breath. "Mom is…mom. She's an adventurer, never sticks to one place for too long. At least she used to be that way when we were growing up. Lately, I feel like she's slowed down though, as if she's ready to settle. They were good together, but it was the wrong time. If that makes sense."

"I think it does."

Our conversation moved on to topics that weren't so heavy. We talked about hobbies, favorite foods, restaurants, and other hangouts in Seattle. Some of the places he named were familiar, but he mentioned quite a few I didn't recognize. I asked if they had opened recently explaining that I'd been out of the country for the last four months. A few were new, but some were places I just hadn't heard of before.

"What took you out of the country for so long?" Edward asked after he'd parked and helped me from the car. We'd arrived at a bakery that looked quaint and cozy. I was excited to get inside and try something.

"Work," I told him. "I'm an exploration geologist." He stopped and turned to me with raised brows.

"I hate to say that I don't know exactly what that means." He looked so reluctant to admit it, but I had to laugh.

"Most people don't. Basically, I search for natural resources such as oil and natural gas. A lot of my work happens in an office or lab, but I'm in a PhD program, and field work is required." He bit his lip, nodded once, and turned back to the bakery where he opened the door and motioned for me to enter. We got in line with only had three people ahead of us. "I don't want it to sound like I don't enjoy the field work, though. I have a blast doing it. I've been studying The Faroe Islands for a few years, and we finally obtained the visas and permits ironed out that we need to dig. I'm actually heading back in the summer once the temperatures rise. I think we'll have better luck then." I'd been eyeing the treats in the case, but when he didn't respond, I turned to see him staring at me intently making me immediately self-conscious. "What? What did I say?" He cleared his throat as he shook his head.

"Honestly?" I nodded hesitantly. "It's just sexy as hell." I immediately flushed at the compliment. "Sorry. That was very forward."

"You don't need to apologize."

Even though I could feel the heat in my cheeks, I looked up to meet his eyes. Someone cleared their throat, and we turned to the counter realizing it was our turn. After ordering a few sweets, coffee for Edward, and a hot chocolate for me, we found a table in the corner by the window. Unsure where to go in conversation after Edward's confession, I looked out the window and watched as couples walked down the sidewalk.

"So, I've been dying to ask you something," Edward said, bringing my attention back to him. I nodded, encouraging him to continue. "Can you tell me more about this curse?" I groaned and covered my eyes. Edward chuckled. "Come on. I'm invested in it now. I need to know the rest. We were at 21. What happened at 21?" I took a bite of my tart to buy some time.

"This is so embarrassing," I groaned. "Some friends of mine had a party at their apartment. Before midnight, we started opening champagne bottles." Edward had raised his coffee cup for a sip but stopped.

"Oh no." I nodded.

"Oh yes. Popped the cork right on my nose. I ended up with a broken nose and two black eyes." He hissed and cringed at the mental image. I took a drink of my hot chocolate and closed my eyes for just a moment to savor the velvety goodness. "So, on New Year's Eve at 22, my boyfriend broke up with me five minutes before midnight. At 23, I found someone with whom I thought I could ring in the new year. Turns out he was gay."

"Oh, Bella." He laid his hand over mine with a look on his face that I couldn't decipher. He was trying to be sympathetic, but he was having trouble holding in his laughter too.

"At 24, I was in Spain for a work trip. New Year's Eve traditions vary around the world, and you know what they say – when in Rome…or in this case, when in Spain. Their tradition is to eat 12 grapes for 12 months of good luck starting when the clock strikes midnight. The catch, though, is to eat one for each toll of the clock. One of the locals told me the best strategy is to take a solid bite and then swallow."

"Oh, Bella, you have to be kidding." I shook my head. He squeezed my hand.

"Nope. I choked on the third grape. Someone had to perform the Heimlich maneuver." Edward just shook his head. "And that brings us to this year: concussion, broken arm, and bruised pride." I said as I stuffed the snickerdoodle cookie into my mouth. Edward enclosed my hand in both of his.

"I think this year wasn't so bad." I looked at him incredulously. "This year was pretty good, actually. I got to meet you." That drew me up short for a moment.

"I guess you're right," I admitted with a grin. "This year at least had a silver lining."

We stayed at the bakery for another hour talking. Eventually, we decided to leave when one of the workers flipped the sign on the door to 'Closed'. We had lost track of time, and I was shocked when I checked my watch to see it was 10:00pm. Edward helped me into the car once again, but when he slid into the driver's seat this time, he held my hand in his. Those butterflies in my tummy were back. Once we arrived at my apartment, he parked and walked me to it.

"I had a wonderful time tonight," he said as I stopped in front of my door with keys in hand. "I hope you did too."

"I did," I assured him.

"Can I see you again?" I nodded.

"That's what friends do, right? Hang out?" He chuckled darkly and looked at me with slightly hooded eyes.

"Bella, I don't want to be just your friend. I want to date you." I didn't know how to respond. No guy had been that forward with me before. "I want to walk through Pike Place and hold your hand, sit on the couch to watch a movie and wrap my arm around your shoulder while you lean against me and we fight over a bowl of popcorn. And it needs to be a movie we've seen before." I tilted my head and looked at him with confusion. He smirked. "That way when I get distracted with kissing you, I don't have to worry about what I missed."

"Oh!" I felt the heat creep into my cheeks.

"Do you like that idea?" I nodded. He reached forward and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. He cupped my neck and ran his thumb over the apple of my cheek. "I've been dreaming about kissing you ever since I saw you in the ER." His eyes bounced from mine to my lips and back. "Can I kiss you?" I nodded again, my voice stuck in my throat.

Without hesitation, Edward leaned down and pressed his warm lips against mine. Though it was cold outside, I felt heated all over at the contact. He kissed me twice before opening his mouth and inviting me in. I dropped the keys and braced myself against his chest as I let myself fall into the kiss. I moaned when he snaked his other arm around my back and pulled me against him. He tasted slightly bitter from the coffee, and it was a great combination with the sweetness from my dessert.

I slid my uninjured hand up and through his soft hair before gripping it lightly and tugging it the way my stomach tugged when he nipped at my bottom lip. He groaned and moved his hand down my back to rest at the base of my spine. Edward pulled back, I hoped reluctantly, and kissed me chastely a few times before resting his forehead against mine.

"I'm sorry for attacking you," he said in a husky voice.

"No," I whispered as I tried to catch my breath. "Attack me anytime." He groaned and pressed his lips against mine heavily but briefly.

"I'm going to go now." He pressed his thumb against my lip. "I will call you to make plans." I nodded as my nerves flared again. I pulled my bottom lip between my teeth and inadvertently pulled his thumb into my mouth as well. He groaned then pulled my face to his kissing me again. After a few moments, he stopped and pushed me away slightly. "I have to go now, or I'll do something I shouldn't do for at least a few more dates. I have a feeling this is going to be something special." I couldn't hide the smile that stretched wide across my face. Edward leaned down and retrieved my keys. I took them from him and turned to unlock the door. Before stepping inside, I turned and kissed him quickly.

"Goodnight."

"Sleep well."

~Cursed at Midnight~

December 31, 2019

I remained sitting with my leg bouncing as I tried to hurry the plane along from my seat. I checked my watch again. 11:41pm – two minutes after the last time I checked. I was going to murder this stupid curse. This year, it was keeping me from Edward. My plane had been delayed in Iceland, and then we had had to stop for mechanical issues as soon as we were back in the US. I should have landed hours ago where Edward would have been waiting to take me back to his condo where we would spend New Year's Eve in safety. Instead, I was probably going to miss sharing midnight with him.

Finally, the plane finished taxiing, and the seat belt sign went off. I rushed to gather my things and stand hoping to be one of the first to deplane. By the time I reached the tunnel leading into the airport, I checked my watch again to see that it was 11:49pm. I hurried along and almost sprinted to baggage claim.

"Bella!" I heard Edward shout and looked around until I spotted him near the carousel. I hurried over, dropped my things, and walked into his open arms. He pulled me to him and held me tightly.

"Hi," I sighed. "I was so worried I wouldn't get here on time."

"I knew you would." I pulled back to look at him like he was crazy. Because he was.

"Did you forget I'm cursed?" He smiled indulgently.

"There will only be great New Year's Eves moving forward. Just watch."

"How is this great? It's 11:58pm, and we're in the middle of the airport. Not very romantic if you ask me." He pulled back with a look on his face that made me nervous. What did he have planned? "What are you up to?" He reached into his pocket then slipped down to one knee. I gasped once I realized what he was doing.

"Bella, I love you with every breath I take." I sniffed to try to hold the tears at bay.

"Yes."

"Wait. I didn't get to give my speech." I reached forward and cupped his face with my hands.

"Do you really need to?" He shook his head and chuckled as he opened the box in his hand. "Edward." The ring was beautiful. He pulled my hand from his face and slipped the ring onto my finger. It fit perfectly.

Five…four…three…

Edward stood, and when the countdown ended, he pulled me into a deep kiss. It was the best kiss we'd shared so far, and it had nothing to do with the month we'd just spent apart while I was working. This was the first kiss of a new phase of my life. This was the beginning of everything.

"I love you so much," I told him when I pulled away to breathe. I heard others clapping and cheering around us. Seems we weren't the only ones celebrating in the airport.

"I love you more than anything, and I can't wait to marry you."

"Well, you'll have to wait at least a little while. Weddings take time to plan." He kissed me again.

"About that." I tilted my head and looked at him curiously. "What do think about a one-year engagement?" It took me a second to realize what he was saying.

"You want to get married on New Year's Eve?" He nodded and held my face as he stroked my cheek with his thumb. It was such a comforting gesture.

"I told you. Only great one's from now on. I'm going to make sure that curse never strikes again. What do you say?" I let out a long breath trying to dispel my nerves. The clapping resumed, and I looked around to realize we were the focus of a small crowd. I blushed at the attention as people congratulated us.

"Okay. I'll marry you next year on New Year's Eve."


AN 01/22/2018: Hello everyone! Thanks for checking out my entry in the Midnight Delight contest. This was so fun to write. My friends Jessica and Angie helped me out by coming up with fun New Years situations. Then author GhostReader24 further helped me without even realizing it. The conversation between Bella and her father was inspired by GhostReader24's prompt she posted in the Facebook group. Also, thank you so much to JA Mash for the incredible banner. It's absolutely beautiful. To see the prompt that inspired Charlie/Bella's conversation and a picture of Bella's New Years dress, check me out on Facebook (Lena Kay). Let me know what you thought about this little dittie!

For those of you waiting on the Do Not Go Gentle sequel, please know it's still going to happen. I will not abandon that. I have written 18 chapters, and there are about 12 more planned. When I hit chapter 11, the story took a completely different turn than I was expecting which caused me to have to rewrite about 5 or 6 chapters. So really, I've written 22 - ha! I'm thinking I'll probably start posting within the month. However, I will most likely only post one chapter a week until it's fully written. At that point, I'll increase my updates. Just wanted to let y'all know and say thanks for your support and patience.