Hi everyone! Happy holidays! I am so excited to share this with you!

A couple of things!

This story will be updated twice daily-each chapter is in switching POVs, but not of repeating events. Bella's POV will be posted in the morning, followed by Edward's POV in the evening. I am going to try to post Bella early (6-7AM MT) and I am going to try to post around 5 or 6PM MT for Edward. We will see though because I will be traveling for the holidays, so the timing might be a little off on some days.

I realized after I posted all the summaries that I had Edward listed as a Masen. Nope, its Cullen. Whoops.

This story will contain hints of "Christmas magic" so if any ideas like that offend you or make you uncomfortable, this is the warning.

This will contain hurt/comfort events at one point in the story, but HEA will prevail.

Huge thank you to LizziePaige for creating a wonderful banner. To Fran for being an amazing beta. And to and Gabby1017 for pre-reading.

I hope you enjoy! I had a lot of fun with this one!



I huffed as I tugged the suitcase from the backseat of the car. I had jam-packed my small Toyota for the journey home, and apparently, this one had become wedged in rather tightly. I was moving into an apartment when I got back to Seattle and the dorms required every little thing to be removed from the premises. How much easier this would have been with my old behemoth of a vehicle. I'd been stowing my stuff at my friend's place for the past few years since I made it a rarity to drive the three hours back home to Forks.

With a final pull, the suitcase came loose and sent me staggering back into a pair of solid arms.

"Careful now, Bells. Bet you miss the truck now, don't you?" Charlie said, steadying me on my feet as he reached around grab to the handle. I stood and raised my arms up over my head to stretch.

"It was her time to go, Dad, and it's good to see you too."

Charlie smiled as he moved towards the house with my suitcase.

It'd only been a few months since I'd seen him last, but I hadn't set foot in Forks since I left for college two years ago. I gave my parents a wild list of excuses as to why I could never come home on breaks or holidays. One of my aspirations was to become a Marine Biologist, so I coped by throwing myself into my studies. I excelled; guaranteeing myself placement in internships and research opportunities across the world. It was a great cover for what was really going on inside.

But, I think deep down, they knew the real reason for my absence. They could pick up on the fact that my heart was still raw over my very unexpected breakup from my high school boyfriend. I guess I was a chicken ... Scared to come back, afraid of what I would find in my small, Podunk, Washington town. I mean, he was my next-door neighbor for crying out loud. What if he brought a new girl home from Ohio State? Some super-hot, blonde bombshell I would be forced to stare at from my window? My stomach felt nauseated just by the thought.

My heart ached, but I couldn't fight the urge to glance back at the grand white house next door, expecting to find an empty driveway and Esme's homemade wreaths in every window. The Cullen's were relatively wealthy with Carlisle being the town's prized surgeon. They traveled to visit family in Canada often during the holidays.

As I turned to stare, I let myself see something other than the bleak snow around me.

It was a summer morning in the early days of our senior year of high school, and he honked the horn of his sleek, silver Volvo three times, impatiently waiting for me to get my ass out of the house. I was running late, and it was the day of senior presentations.

When I shut the door behind me and made my way to the passenger side, I stopped dead in my tracks. He was dressed in a dark emerald shirt that matched his eyes, and his dark auburn hair was slicked back, messily. He was beautiful. It wasn't often he traded jeans and a sweater for a crisp, button-down and slacks. But when he did, it took my breath away.

"Swan, are you gonna stare or get into the car?" He asked, rolling down the window. A smirk covered his face, and his eyes narrowed.

I sighed as the snow appeared back on the ground.

Back to the present.

It was better this way, I guess. I might as well get it over with and look.

My chest ached again, but as I glanced up, my breath halted.

It was there.

The driveway wasn't empty. The silver car was parked near the top with Carlisle's dark Mercedes behind it.

It looked the same as it always did, shiny and well-maintained. The chances he would be there would be slim, right? If he was visiting, he would fly. Perhaps something happened with the car and Carlisle had it towed back home.

Really, Bella? Back to Forks all the way from Columbus? Carlisle may be made of money, but he wasn't dumb.

There was nothing wrong with the car.

God just hated me.

And damn Renee for wanting to take a cruise with her new husband for the holidays.

I'd been so careful to avoid him, so much that it became almost a lifestyle. Staying off social media, ignoring texts, turning into a robot of a person when it comes to emotions. The days leading up to college were some of the hardest of my life. We'd been attached at the hip since sophomore year—and then he left. He dumped me with little excuse, claiming it would be better for both of us.

Of course, he tried to reach out, but I was too hurt.

I bit my lip and internally willed someone to come to the window.

Did he bring someone home with him? Was she beautiful? Did Esme love her? What about little Alice? Could she see her becoming a new big sister?

I shook my head, took a deep breath, and slammed the car door. I then spun on my heels to head inside the house.

The next evening, I joined Charlie for a classic dinner at the Forks' Diner. As bothered as I was to be back in town, part of me was glad to be getting back to familiar things. Unfortunately, a slice of peach cobbler couldn't change the past, but I enjoyed my time with Charlie. My father, being the chief of police to the good people of Forks, meant he worked a lot, especially during the holidays. Our time together over the next few days would be sparse, but I didn't mind being alone. And Charlie took extra shifts so his deputies could spend time with their families. I wasn't much in the holiday spirit anyway.

He had planned on us going to dinner and decorating the tree tonight, an old tradition from my childhood days.

Naturally, he was needed at the station.

I ate my cobbler quickly as he chatted about sports with the man in the booth next to us.

Soon, we back to our street. Charlie had driven to dinner, so he had to drop me off before heading into work. He left me in front of our house with a small smile, a reminder that the ornaments were the attic, and a promised attempt at making it home before midnight.

My phone chirped as I stood on the sidewalk.

"Heard you were in town, want to come over?"

I smiled at the sender.

If there was anything I missed about the Olympic Peninsula, it was my best friend. Jacob Black lasted a semester at The University of Washington after he graduated a year after me. It was the crutch I didn't know I needed. Though he settled on life in La Push, he made frequent trips during the semester to see me.

"I'm home—Charlie's gone for the night. Come help me decorate the tree." I sent back, heading towards the house. Behind my long curtain of hair, I snuck another look towards the Cullen house, taking in the now empty driveway before heading inside.

It didn't take long for Jacob's old VW Rabbit to turn down the street. Ignoring my coat, I ran down the steps to meet him in the driveway. It had been a while since I saw him. Jacob parked and got out catching me in his arms as I ran towards him.

"Hey!" I said, burying my face into his jacket.

"What's going on, Loca? I haven't seen you in forever!"

We chatted and walked. Jacob kept my hands in his.

I was so caught up in seeing my old friend that I didn't see the two figures exiting the black car in the Cullen's driveway. The only aspect of the situation was Jacob suddenly attempting to pull me closer and the slam of a car door.

I whirled around and caught a pair of green eyes.

The owner of those eyes lit up when she saw me.

"Oh! Carlisle, look!" Esme Cullen said, placing two, to-go boxes on the ground by the car. Before I could blink, the older woman moved across the gravel between the driveways. As much as my heart hurt, I couldn't resist a hug from Esme. They were warm and welcoming.

I moved away from Jake to meet her midway.

"Bella! How are you, sweet girl?" She enclosed me in her arms to give me a strong hug.

"Esme, I'm good! It's been such a long time." I said, pulling away and meeting her eyes.

She playfully smacked me on the arm, "that's because you've been too busy off being a world traveler, it seems! I see everything your mom posts!"

Ever since my relationship with her son ended, I avoided social media. I didn't want to be reminded of things. As far as I knew, I was friends with his entire family on Facebook. And apparently, so is my mom.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"You were in Australia last summer, I saw! You will have to tell me all about it—I've always wanted to go! And Africa! The pictures Renee shared on Facebook were stunning!"

"Yeah, I got to do a few cool things." I nodded and smiled, my cheeks reddening at the blush growing. I didn't like it when the center of attention was on me.

"Spending Christmas with your dad?"

"Yeah, I figured it was about time to come back here. This is actually the first time I've been home since college started."

"Wow! We're all still here! Emmett is visiting Rosalie's family in New York. The junior high already let out for the holidays. And…well, Edward is home too. But… we will have to have tea! I still make it just like you like it! We are going away for a few days before Christmas, but perhaps after the new year!

"Emmett is with Rosalie? I thought they…"

"For a while, but things seemed to have worked out." Esme smiled at me warmly. It didn't slip my notice that she didn't spend too much time discussing her other son.

"That's nice to hear. Is Alice out with her friends?"

"No, we were all just at dinner in Port Angeles. Alice…drove with Edward. She's so excited for him to be home. She flew out to Columbus so she could make the drive back with him. They should be pulling up any minute now; they stopped at the store to grab some whipped cream for the pie I made."

"That's…nice." I forced myself to say, ignoring the pain in my chest.

"Well, who is your friend?" Esme picked up on my discomfort, "Carlisle, come say hello to Bella!" She called over her shoulder.

"Esme, you remember Jacob Black. He's Billy's son."

"You look familiar, so I'm sure you've been in my living room once or twice. Nice to see you again."

Jacob nodded and smiled.

Carlisle joined us, and we engaged in small talk, general chit chat about school. Carlisle seemed interested in my research opportunities.

It was only minutes later when the silver car pulled into the driveway.

AN: See you later today with Chapter 2 in Edward's POV.

In the meantime,

Checkout the Pay it Forward Winterward 2019 Card Contest! Submit a photo of how you think Edward Cullen would be celebrating the December holidays! Each entry must have a photo on the front along with a caption or short story tying everything together (no longer than 500 words). Entries are being accepted until December 20th and winners will be announced on December 25. Check out the facebook group "Winterward Card Contest 2019" for more information!

I have a group on facebook! I will be posting some cute photos to go along with this story! Check out the group "Mariescullen Fanfiction"!

Happy reading!