A/N: Stephanie Meyer may own Twilight's Edward and Bella, but I own this story and its Edward and Bella ... and everyone else, lol.
On to the story.
"Edward Masen." He held his hand out for her to shake.
Her mind drifted. He had large hands and she wondered briefly how well they could turn her ass red. She introduced herself before she actually asked him. "Bella."
"Oh," His eyebrows crawled up his forehead slowly. "Alice's friend."
"Yep, and you're the uncle. And Esme's little brother."
He rolled his eyes. "Esme's little brother. Please don't say that in front of her. I don't need her calling me 'baby boy' all night." He shook his head, smile planted on full lips.
"I promise I won't."
"Good. You enjoying yourself?"
"Yeah, yeah. I can't wait for the cake though. I'm really just here for the cake."
He chuckled. "Just the cake? Not to celebrate love's eternal glory or whatever the fuck?"
They laughed. "Sure. That too."
Their laughter died down as a couple approached them, big smiles on their faces.
"Edward! How are you?" The woman grabbed his hand and kissed his cheek.
"Gianna. I'm good. Demetri, how are you man?"
"Good, good. This party is something else. Not surprised though. It's a Cullen-Masen Soiree."
Gianna looked to Bella, eyes widening a little. "Gianna Foster."
"Bella Swan." They shook hands.
"Edward, man. Never thought I'd see the day when you brought someone home - she's gorgeous."
Bella went to correct them, but Edward beat her to it.
"Ha, no. Unfortunately, Bella is just a family friend. Alice's actually."
"Oh!" Gianna looked between the them, observing the close stance between the two. "My apologies. Well, at least we know she's not slumming it with you."
The threesome laughed, while Bella snorted. They were at a 3-million-dollar vow renewal reception, at a mansion that was someone's everyday home. Cullen-Masen was old money - if this was slumming it, she'd hate to find these two anywhere near her little loft.
She let Edward speak to them, falling back into her seat. Watching as he gathered a small crowd - mostly women who were mostly needy. He did try to include her, even angling his body in her direction, but she tried not to notice.
She smiled at him, biting her lip and turned her gaze back to the party.
She'd seen pictures, heard Alice go on and on about her Uncle making an appearance, and she secretly hope he didn't bring anyone with him. Apparently, he didn't have the best taste in women - a fact that Esme never failed to mention. Alice had met the last one on a less than happy accident, but Bella didn't care about Alice's ire. She did, however, want to meet him for herself. The 'Eligible Bachelor' she heard so many women speak of this past month.
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye before looking away, right into Garrett's pretty blues. He was a nice guy, gorgeous. Someone to occupy her mind.
He handed her one of the drinks in his hands. "Did you want to go back to our seats? I think Alice said that someone was going to do a toast or something soon."
She glanced back to the little party that had gathered, still in conversation.
"Yeah, sure. My feet are starting to die from all of this mingling."
"Ha, yeah. I think that's just you though," he chuckled, smirking.
Edward swiveled as Bella got up, hand in hand with the man he saw her walk in with. He forced a smile. "It was nice to finally meet you, Bella."
She turned to acknowledge him. "You, too. Enjoy your night."
She let Garrett pull her away, nudging his bicep as he led the way to their table. She busied herself by chatting with Jasper and Garrett, the three occasionally observing Alice and Rosalie, the party planner, run around the backyard barking orders. Alice was like a madwoman - following Rosalie around, making sure that everything was in its place. She may have been the assistant, but Rosalie was letting her lead.
They were Alice's parents after all.
A few minutes later, feedback cut across the large yard, alerting everyone to take their seats. Alice stood on stage, eyes bouncing from her clipboard to the tables, making sure everyone sat in their assigned seat. She smiled in confirmation, gesturing for someone to come up.
Uncle Edward Masen.
He tapped the mic a few times as he smoothed his shirt. "Good evening." He cleared his throat. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to – "
"Oh my god! Get on with it!" Esme shouted, causing everyone to laugh.
"Fine, fine. Whatever." He waved a hand at her. "Carlisle, again, I don't know how you've made it this long, but kudos to you."
Esme flipped him off with a smile.
He placed a hand to his chest. "Anyway, I've been given the honor of sending off this lovely couple on their second honeymoon with a toast." He clutched his glass. "Carlisle, Esme. While you both may make me vomit in my mouth from time to time," there was laughter. "I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we are immensely happy for you separately, as we are for you together. You two have given me something to look up to, even though I'm taller, and we're grown as fuck now."
"Amen!" Carlisle point a finger at him in laughter.
Edward's face settled into a little smile. "But while relationships have never been my strong suit … " He took a deep breath. "You two never fail to show all of us here that it's just as important to like your partner, as you would like yourself. To love your partner, as you would love yourself, and while love is often spoken, it is also shown. You two always reflect it in your own weird way - a partnership, an equal, a soulmate. That…" He pointed to them, watching Esme clutch her pearls, no longer bothering to wipe her face. "That shit is real. You two … are real."
"From high school sweethearts, to college, to now." He shook his head. "27 years ago, Carlisle promised my family that he and Esme would build a life capable of lasting through anything. Together 34 years, married for 27 and celebrating 50 years on this earth. I must say … you two are nothing but a couple of goddamn overachievers."
Bella huffed out a laugh along with everyone else. She couldn't help but agree with his statement.
"Let us all lift our glasses."
Bella watched as Esme wiped her face and readjusted herself on Carlisle's lap.
"To Carl and Essy!"
"Oh, come on!" Esme shouted.
By the time the night ended, Bella's feet really were barking at her to sit down, and stay down. Preferably in her own bed.
Esme and Carlisle had insisted that the 'kids' stay at the house so they could all have an early breakfast in the morning before they left.
The 'kids' being Bella, Alice and Jasper. Carlisle's younger brother, and Rosalie's husband, Emmett, was also staying, along with Edward.
It was going to be a full house, but that was how Esme liked it.
The guests had finally left an hour ago and Carlisle whisked Esme away to the house as soon as the last car flashed its headlights. The cleaning crew was almost done, but Bella, never one to miss a chance to clean, was hand-washing the extravagant dinnerware the Cullen's brought out for the big occasion.
Sheesh. Twenty-seven years. Damn.
Twenty-seven years of marriage. Coming from a family that wholeheartedly believed in divorce – amicable or not – Bella had a hard time grasping the concept of being with someone for that long. At least, one someone.
"I think that plate is clean," Edward chuckled out behind her.
Her head turned quickly to see him leaning against the wall by the entryway, watching her, eyes slightly hooded.
She swallowed and turned back around. "Uh, yeah. I guess it is." She moved on to the next plate, not sure why her throat felt tight.
She considered saying something to fill the silence that followed but decided against it. This kitchen was going to be very loud tomorrow, so it was best to bask in it while she could. Despite her vigorous cleaning, she felt him move closer, heard him set his glass down on the kitchen island. She glanced behind her, eyes widening briefly at him being just a few feet away, leaning against the granite counter top.
"Alice wanted me to check on you while she stalked the crew outside." He put his hands in his pockets, chin jerking towards the window in front of her.
She rinsed the last dish, following his eyeline. "Oh ... I'm okay. Just winding down like everyone else."
He hummed. Cleared his throat.
But she spoke first, curiosity getting the best of her now that he was alone. "I enjoyed your speech."
"…yes. Why do you sound surprised?" She laughed a little, rinsing the sink out.
She heard his clothes rustle. The smile in his voice. "I thought all the cake you consumed would've wiped your mind of everything else."
She turned to face him, drying off her hands. "You were watching me?" she asked, voice light.
"…I would try to reassure you that I'm not a creep, but I think you'd have to get to know me to know for sure."
Her eyebrows raised. "Are you trying to flirt with me?"
"I was getting to that, yes," he laughed.
"Huh. Don't let me stop you. The old man flirting with the impressionable young friend of the family."
"I don't know about all of that," he shrugged. "But I would love to take you out to dinner." His face was serious, but a smiled threatened to come out.
He didn't want to seem too eager, but he was. He was excited to meet the gorgeous brunette he had heard so much about from several members of his family. He hadn't expected her to come with someone, but he didn't see a ring on her finger, so he decided it was worth the shot.
Not that a barren ring finger meant much these days.
She didn't seem that interested in the kid either, though. But who knows?
"Just earlier you said relationships weren't your strong suit."
He nodded in confirmation. "I'm sure for the right one I'll get it together."
She scoffed, smiling. "I'm no one's trial run, and I hate to be that person, but you're 38 years old. What else is there for you to get together?"
He sucked his teeth. "Good point. But does anyone ever actually have it together? The guy you came with ... is he your boyfriend?"
Her eyes jumped at the change in subject. "If he is?"
He shifted, trying to keep his composure. Not gonna lie, he'd be disappointed as hell.
"I'd leave you to your cleaning. Make sure to keep my distance."
"Distance ... hm. No, he's not my boyfriend." She shook her head slowly.
Her gaze fell to his biceps, firmly pressed against his perfectly tailored shirt. She thought, fleetingly, how long he could hold her up against the wall but stopped that thought before she said it out loud.
She didn't need to be in any more trouble.
She'd never been the type to beat around the bush either. "We can go to dinner."
She uncrossed her arms and relaxed fully against the sink. "I'm getting kind of worried about how surprised you are by my responses. Who have you been talking to?"
She thought for a beat. "Okay. Yeah, everything she's said is probably really accurate."
They smiled at each other.
"I was honestly ready to work for it," he said.
"Well, it's just a date. What's there to work for really?"
His lips pursed. "I'll try not to get ahead of myself, then."
"Exactly ... just a date."
He grinned, eyes lowering. "For now."
A/N: I hope everyone is getting through this trying time with a positive spirit and being diligent with your health and everyone else's!
Also, try to relax.
That kind of sounds contradicting though.
But still try to relax.