Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, I just have fun with them from time to time! They all belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Author's Note: This is all pure, sugary fluff! No substance whatsoever, but definitely fun to write. It's just a one shot that takes place during Bella and Edward's wonderful summer before their senior year. Enjoy!
The early August heat was nothing in comparison to the heat emanating from the several boiling pans on the stove and the baking oven. While I could not technically perspire from it, I could certainly feel it against my face and it was uncomfortable. I sighed in frustration as one of the pots began to boil over, its contents spilling over onto the hot oven. I leaned over the pot to adjust the heat. Just then, I heard Charlie's musing thoughts precede his entrance to the kitchen. I looked over to the doorway as I heard him approach, and he spoke aloud.
"Hey, Edward, there's a game on later if you want to watch with me until Bella gets ba—WHOA!" He stopped short, dropping the mail and scooting next to me. "I don't know much about cooking, but I know about fire safety, son, and you shouldn't put your face over all that steam—it'll burn you worse than the water will!"
I did not answer immediately; I just nodded politely and took a step back. "Thanks, Charlie. I'll try to be a bit more careful." He had no way of knowing that the steam could not hurt me, and I was grateful for his show of concern. It was a welcome change from the near-hostile treatment I had received from him since the disastrous trip to Phoenix just months ago.
I grimaced as the thought crossed my mind. I tried, with difficulty, not to dwell on the events that transpired in Arizona. I knew I would never be able to shake the images of Bella on the floor of that ballet studio, broken within an inch of her life. I blinked, pushing the image out of my mind and returning to Charlie's original question.
"I'll let you know about the game," I continued, "but as you can see, I'm having a bit of trouble keeping track of everything I have on the stove." I waved my hand, indicating the slight mess I was making. So much for being good at everything.
"Aw, don't be so hard on yourself. Bella will appreciate the break, I'm sure…and whatever it is you're making, it certainly smells good." He gave me a half-smile, and I returned it.
"Thanks, Charlie. I'll be sure to save you a portion." His eyes lit up hungrily and he nodded a quick farewell as he went into the living room. While he had imposed curfews and time limits at the end of the school year, he had grown used to my presence over the course of the summer. In the past few weeks, Bella was able to enjoy a lot more freedoms than she had been allowed since Phoenix, and I reveled in the additional time we were given during the day. Of course, Charlie had never been aware of the fact that, after he fell asleep each night, I immediately climbed through Bella's window and stayed the night with her.
The summer had passed by uneventfully, but wonderfully. Bella and I were able to spend time together without worrying about being in danger, and if at all possible, I had fallen even more in love with her. More of my human instincts were resurfacing every day, and those very instincts led me to the decision to do something special for her on a relatively significant day for us.
The idea formulated simply enough. Thought I was not sure Bella would remember; I had realized that today marked six months since the day in the meadow. I had never been big for anniversaries or even keeping track of the days—when one has eternity, days begin to lose their significance. However, all of that changed once Bella came into my existence. It had been as if I was going through the motions of daily life without any true emotion. My human charade was devoid of any meaning. Once Isabella Swan moved into Forks, that void was instantly filled with bloodlust—a thirst for her life. As time passed, however, that thirst evolved into a desire to be in her life, a desire to make her my own. And so, I took the most selfish action I could remember taking in my century of existence—I opened my stone cold heart and let Bella in, falling in love with her and allowing her to uncover the human emotions that I had long since forgotten.
After that day in the meadow, Bella and I fell into a relationship that went beyond any teenage romance I had ever read about or seen on film. A day that significant deserved some recognition in my book. I wanted to do something special for Bella, but I knew how she felt about surprises. After a rather irritating consultation with Alice, I decided to keep the surprise simple and private and—based on what I could read from Bella's previous reactions to any gift offerings—inexpensive. Alice threw around ridiculous suggestions involving strewn rose petals and candles everywhere, culminating in a new baby grand piano in the corner of Bella's room where I could sing her to sleep every night after I unceremoniously crept into her room. While all of these suggestions definitely fell in the romantic category, they did not seem appropriate for the occasion. I figured I would save those grand gestures for something even more significant, like perhaps our honeymoon. At that thought, I smiled softly to myself while stirring the marinara sauce boiling on the stove. After reaching an impasse with Bella concerning her humanity, I had chosen the most appealing option for the time being, which was to remain with Bella as she lived her life—at least as long as she would have me. That meant that, hopefully, one day we could continue my human charade by getting married. Unfortunately, we would not be able to enjoy all the benefits that a marriage entailed…damn my irrational strength…however, we could still enjoy the benefit of a lifetime commitment. If we were married, at least I would not have to resort to sneaking into her room.
And so, here I was, in Bella's kitchen. In taking the low-key approach, I had decided to give her a break from making dinner. I gave it a personal touch by making mushroom ravioli and breadsticks—I even went to so far as to make sure I got Cokes to drink. I hoped that she would remember what she had eaten that fateful night in Port Angeles. Alice had joined in on the surprise, albeit disappointed that it did not involve the fanfare she was so fond of. She had dragged Bella off to the city for some "girl time," while I headed over to Bella's house, groceries in tow. Of course, plans had to be organized with Charlie, who had been less than friendly in recent months—not that I could blame him. I could read his mind from every moment I entered Bella's house. He blamed me for her trip to Phoenix, but he knew that his blame was irrational. I took slight comfort in the fact that he did not truly dislike me, he just disliked the fact that his daughter was growing up and had fallen in love. He was surprisingly pleased when I called him to tell him my plans, and we bonded in a way that only conspirators could, much like when I needed his help in taking Bella to prom.
Charlie, who had taken a liking to Alice, joined in the game and convinced Bella that she needed some time with girls. As I took the breadsticks out of the oven I smiled, picturing Bella's sullen face this morning as Alice practically dragged her out the door of my house. Checking the clock, I noted that Bella should be arriving soon. It was my plan to have dinner packed nicely in a basket before she walked in the door. Alice was going to take her back to our house after their shopping trip and call me as soon as Bella's truck was out of sight and on the way here. Suddenly, the timer beeped. I combined all of the necessary ingredients, uncharacteristically nervous. I hoped that Bella would at least be pleased, even if unwilling to accept a celebratory surprise. It was too late to back out, however, as the silver phone in my back pocket began to vibrate. Our conversation lasted just a few seconds before I snapped the phone shut and began to arrange Bella's meal. I knew that Charlie was immersed in the game, so I took the opportunity to move at the speed to which I was accustomed. Bella's food was packed, the stove was clean, and a plate sat in the microwave for Charlie all in less than a minute. I knew that I did not need to rush, though. Bella's truck moved as slowly as waiting for Christmas did for an impatient child.
I left the basket on the kitchen table and went up to Bella's room, knowing that she would head straight upstairs. I had led Charlie to believe that Carlisle had dropped me off, though I had truthfully just run there myself. I did not want my car in the driveway, because Alice had told Bella that my brothers and I had "abandoned" them for a short hunting trip. It was all part of the ruse.
I heard, rather than saw, Bella's ancient truck grumbling down the street. I tensed, once again nervous. Even though Alice had glanced ahead into the future and told me that Bella would be pleased, Alice could only gauge the certainty of my decisions, not Bella's. I knew Bella better than Alice did—she had the ability to go off the deep end sometimes, and for all I knew, she could lash out and throw something at me. Doubtful, but still very possible. It would help if I could read her thoughts…but I digress.
"Hey, Dad!" I heard her sweet voice carry up the stairs.
"Hey, Bell, how was shopping today?" He answered, his mind running a mile a minute, hoping that he would not spoil the surprise for her.
"It was good, Alice actually convinced me to buy some clothes….Geez, Dad, what smells so good?"
"Oh, erm…" he stuttered, "Just playing around in the kitchen. Why don't you run and put your bags in your room, then come back down here?" I smiled. He was doing well.
"Um…okay," Bella said hesitantly, probably pausing to peek into the kitchen. She would see the basket, and probably grow even more confused. I smiled again, and I could feel it grow wider as I heard her feet tromp up the stairs.
She flung her bedroom door open and stopped short when she saw me perched on the edge of her bed.
"Oh!" She gasped, her hand flying to her chest in surprise. "Edward! What are you doing here? I thought you were hunting!" She dropped her shopping bags and flew to me, bouncing into my lap and wrapping her warm arms around me. I returned the hug and laughed softly before giving her a quick kiss.
"No; no hunting tonight, love," I told her. She pulled away from me, trepidation in her eyes.
"Is everything okay? I didn't get into any trouble, Alice and I were fine, you didn't need to come back to protect me…" Her words came out in a rush, and I put a finger up to her lips to silence her.
"Everything is fine, Bella. I never left to go hunting, it was all just a story." I smiled, watching the confusion fill her eyes.
"A story? But why? What's going on?" she demanded, her eyes changing from confused to indignant.
"Just a surprise I cooked up, quite literally," I joked, impressed with my unintentional pun. She caught on quicker than I expected, and her eyes widened.
"You? You were the one that was cooking downstairs? I knew Charlie couldn't have…but wait, why? I still don't know what's going on!"
I could not stop myself from chuckling as I began to rub small circles on her back, feeling her heart fly beneath my hand.
"I made you dinner," I said simply. "It's all packed downstairs, and I'm taking you out to eat it. Let's go." I stopped rubbing her back and gave her a small pat, indicating that it was time to stand up. She looked at me, questioning, but did not resist.
"Was Charlie in on this, too?"
"Of course," I replied, guiding her down the stairs. We walked into the kitchen and I grabbed the picnic basket. As we headed out the door, we called our goodbyes to Charlie, who reminded us that Bella needed to be home by 10.
Bella began to walk to her truck, but I softly grabbed her arm and stopped her, turning her back to face me.
"Oh, no you don't. I get to drive that thing tonight. The whole point is for you not to lift a finger." I smiled a wicked smile at her, and I knew that she would not protest. She rolled her eyes and huffed at my comment about her truck, but climbed in the passenger seat without a word.
We made idle small talk on the drive down the 101. I enjoyed the way we could talk to each other, easily and with little effort. Bella always had something to say, a new story to tell, a new question to ask. Today was no different.
"So, what gave you this idea?"
"Well, I just wanted to do something special for you. Give you a break from cooking and all."
She smiled, somewhat uncomfortably. I returned the smile and continued. "Also, today is a special day for us."
"Is it?" She said loftily, but I could see the glint in her eye. I knew that she was aware of the day's significance as well.
"Indeed it is, Miss Swan," I said, nodding solemnly. "Today marks five months since the day you rolled off your bed in the middle of the night. You would have broken your nose had I not been there to catch you." I concealed my smile and her eyes flew wide with indignation. I saw the color rise to her cheeks; she was embarrassed.
"That—I—That's not why today is important. And I wish you didn't have such a good memory…you would think that with all the times I nearly fall on my face, they would add up and lose significance."
I feigned confusion. "Well then," I asked, "what does make today important? Since I've so obviously forgotten, though you just accused me of having a good memory."
Her cheeks flushed once more, and I delighted in it as I always did. She avoided my gaze and looked at the floor of the truck. She smiled a small smile.
"Six months ago, you took me to the meadow. It was the first day that we spent together, and the first night you stayed," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. She looked out the window, a smile still on her face and her eyes far away, remembering. I reached over and grabbed her hand, squeezing it before I brought it to my lips so that I could kiss her knuckles softly. It brought her out of her reverie, and she looked to me and smiled radiantly.
"That's where we're going, right?" she asked, a twinkle in her eye. I nodded simply and flashed a big smile in her direction. I felt her heart flutter and she sighed, content. Then I felt her heart skip a beat and watched her smile falter.
"We have to run part of the way, don't we." It was a statement, not a question.
"Ah, come now, Bella. Isn't it getting easier for you by now?" She grimaced.
"Not really. I still feel like I'm going to hit a tree or something…"
"Don't worry," I assured her for the thousandth time. "You'll be fine. I'll keep you safe." I knew she wouldn't be able to argue with me after that. I parked the truck and got out, helping her down and immediately swinging her onto my back. She wrapped her arms around my neck in a stranglehold. I handed her the basket so that she could hold it snugly against my chest, freeing my arms for a faster run. And then we were off.
A few moments later, we reached the meadow. I softly rubbed Bella's arm to let her know that she could open her eyes. I felt her face pry away from my neck as she took a ragged breath.
"See, now? That wasn't so bad, was it?" I took the basket from her and helped her off my back. She glared at me mockingly before shrugging her shoulders. She then turned to walk towards the meadow, but I grabbed her hand and pulled her back to me for another quick kiss. She had gotten better at self-control, so she stood perfectly still, only moving to bring her hand up to my cheek as I kissed her softly. After a moment, I took her hand and we walked to the meadow.
Once we reached a comfortable spot, I put the basket down and opened it, pulling out a big blanket. Bella raised her eyebrows, giving me a small smile before she sat down gingerly. She watched as I unloaded the basket item by item, placing a bowl in front of her. The ravioli and breadsticks had remained insulated in their containers, so they were still very hot.
"So what are we—I mean, what am I having?" I smiled at her correction and sat down next to her to begin scooping food into her bowl.
"You are having mushroom ravioli, my dear," I said impishly. I saw something pass across her eyes before they lit up.
"Your memory really is too good," she complained, but she sounded happy. I heard her stomach growl in anticipation. "You've never cooked for me before, I'm really curious."
"Well, wait just a second, it's really hot. Charlie had to give me a quick lesson in fire safety while I was cooking." I rolled my eyes, while she looked surprised.
"Excuse me? Does this mean we've finally found something you're not good at? Cooking?"
I shrugged lightly. "I don't know, you tell me," I replied. She eyed the ravioli and then looked at me. She scooped one up, blew on it to cool it, and then placed it in her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully for a moment, and then shook her head. I felt my face fall slightly.
"Nope. I can't believe this," she said dejectedly. "You're officially good at everything. Edward, this is incredible! It tastes even better than the restaurant's. How did you do it?"
"Well, I called the restaurant and asked for the recipe," I said simply, as if the answer was obvious. "The hostess on the phone was the same one from when we went there. She actually remembered me, believe it or not. It wasn't hard to convince her to give me the chef's secret sauce recipe." I finished, proud of myself, but stopped short when I saw Bella's eyes had dropped.
"Of course she remembered you," she mumbled. "Who wouldn't?"
"Well, I don't even remember what she looks like, Bella," I assured her. "I was only looking at one girl that night, and I'm still looking at her now." I placed a hand on her face, tilting it up so I could look into her eyes. She smiled begrudgingly. "Now, eat up," I demanded. "I slaved for hours in that kitchen, cooking at a human pace." She balked, disbelieving, but then began to eat again. Suddenly, she blushed and looked down into her food.
"I wish you'd stop watching me eat. It makes me nervous. It's bad enough that you spent so much time making it for me…"
I laughed. "You silly girl, one day you will have to learn to be a more gracious recipient. Honestly, it's quite irritating that you cannot accept a gift, even one that didn't really cost any money." She glared at me, and I wished that I could read her thoughts, knowing that I would never be able to.
"I do appreciate it. It's really amazing food, and this is one surprise that I must admit, I don't hate." She reached over to stroke the back of my hand softly, her eyes looking sincerely into my own. I intertwined my fingers with hers and waited for her to finish eating her food with her free hand. We laid back on the blanket, still holding hands, and watched as the sunlight faded into twilight.
"Bella," I said softly.
"Hmm?" she replied drowsily. I glanced in her direction to see that she was the picture of calm contentment, her eyes closed and her thumb making small circles against my hand.
"I just wanted to do something for you to make sure you know how much I appreciate you. I wish I had some eloquent speech to declare my feelings for you, but I know that you already know my feelings. I also know how much you hate big shows, so I'm just going to tell you I love you. I truly love you more than existence itself, and I hope that you know I'll always love you."
I noticed that she had opened her eyes and was looking at me. I looked into her eyes and used my free hand to brush a strand of hair away from her face.
"I love you, too," she said simply. She closed the distance between us without breaking eye contact until she slowly closed her eyes and kissed me.
After our time in the meadow, we made our way back to Bella's house. The last thing I needed was another restriction to follow, so I made sure Bella got home on time. I bid my fake farewell at the door, giving her a quick kiss and sticking my head through the doorway to say thanks to Charlie. He grunted in response, and I closed the door behind me as Bella dashed up the stairs to her room.
I silently came through her window, and I was sitting on her bed before she reached the room. She opened the door and closed it softly behind her, crossing the room to sit on my lap. Her arms wrapped around my neck and she brought her face to mine.
"Thank you for today, it was amazing."
"Anytime, my love. Anytime." We shared a smile before she jumped up to gather her bathroom things. I watched her as she dashed out of the room. Curiously, she came running back in, as if she had forgotten something. I glanced to her desk to see if she had left her bag of toiletries…she hadn't. Before I could ask, however, she snatched up one of the many shopping bags that she had dropped earlier. She glanced at me for a moment, a dark blush rising to her cheeks. And then she was gone again.
It had become ritual for her to take her shower and get ready for bed while I waited silently in her room. There had been a few close calls with Charlie, but the advantage of hearing his thoughts as he came up the stairs never failed me. I swung my legs up onto the bed and backed up until I could rest my back against Bella's huge pillows. I looked around the room, my eyes once again falling to the pile of shopping bags. Not wanting to invade Bella's privacy, I forced myself to remain on the bed. Knowing Bella, however, the bags were probably full of clothing that she would only wear to my house so as not to hurt my sister's feelings. I smiled. My Bella, always thinking of others before herself—even those of us who don't deserve it.
I noted that Bella was taking longer to come back to her room than usual. I quickly walked to her small bookshelf and grabbed a book to read while I waited. I had heard the shower stop nearly ten minutes ago, and she still had not returned. Usually it was only a few moments after the shower turned off that Bella would come back into the room, in her sweatpants and old t-shirt, with her hair combed but still wet. Then, to my surprise, I heard the hair dryer blowing. I shrugged, not understanding why she felt the need to dry her hair, but not questioning it. Ten minutes later, I heard her footsteps coming down the hall. The door slowly opened, but Bella did not enter. I looked up from my book, my one eyebrow raised in confusion.
She peeked her head in, her dry hair softly falling over her shoulders. It looked smoother somehow, falling in soft waves. Her hair was always beautiful, but now it practically begged to be touched. I was about to comment, but then she pushed open the door further and came into full view. I was knocked breathless by what I saw.
It wasn't that she was wearing anything spectacular, not at all. She was simply wearing a new pair of pajamas. It was just a dark blue top with very thin straps, and a matching striped pair of pajama pants. However, it was a far cry from the sweats that I had grown so accustomed to, and she looked absolutely gorgeous. I felt my mouth drop open slightly as she tentatively stepped into the room. As the silence continued, I saw her eyes begin to look uneasy and her steps slowed.
"…what?" she finally said softly.
"Nothing," I said simply, attempting to control my voice. I knew that if my heart had the ability to beat, it would have been fluttering wildly. "You just look very, very beautiful. It took my breath away."
"Oh. It's just some new pajamas, Edward," she said, but I could see that she was pleased by my reaction. "I needed some, and these looked comfortable, so I bought them today with Alice. I also figured you were getting tired of looking at my gross old sweats, too." She smiled at me then, adding to her already radiant beauty.
I tossed my book aside and reached out to her, pulling her down so she could lay next to me on the bed. She automatically cuddled into my chest, sighing softly.
"I do like that color against your skin," I told her.
"I know," she replied simply. "I remembered, and that's exactly why I bought them." She craned her neck up so she could kiss the bottom of my jaw. "You're not the only one with a good memory, Edward." I chuckled and kissed the top of her head before I started running my hand through her incredibly soft hair.
"Apparently not," I answered softly.
"Sometimes it's nice to surprise you, I must say," Bella said impishly. I could feel her grin against my chest. "It's always a treat to see you rendered speechless."
"Hah!" I barked quietly, so as not to wake Charlie. "Well, I guess I'll give you that. I enjoy a good surprise just as much as the next person. And this," I continued, running my index finger across her collar bone and hooking it around one of the straps of her top, tugging it softly, "is one surprise that certainly appreciate."
"Well, then, we're even for once," Bella said, looking up at me once more. "You surprised me, and I surprised you. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful day."
"I couldn't agree more," I said softly, bringing her face up to mine before I kissed her once more.