AN: This chapter goes unbeta'd. Please forgive any mistakes.
Characters are not mine, they belong to Stephenie Meyer. But this plot is mine.
EPOV – One to two months later
"Edward, are you ready baby?"
I appraised myself in the bathroom mirror once more, straightening my tie for the final time. "Yep, let's do this."
With a final tug at the bottom of my suit jacket, I turned around and my eyes immediately landed on Bella. She was standing in from of my dresser putting in an earring, her back facing me. She looked absolutely delectable in a fitted navy blue dress that fell to her knees and had a low cut back.
Having finished up with her earrings, she turned around to face me. My breathing hitched. If I thought that the back of her dress was impressive, the front was even more so. She was stunning as always. We hadn't even left my apartment yet and already I was anxious for the evening to be over and for us to be back in my bed.
She was a minx and I think she must have known it based on the sly grin she wore. Bella slowly, not to mention sexily walked up to me and placed her hands on either side of my waist.
"I promise there will be plenty of time for that later. If we don't leave now, however, we'll be late."
With that, she chastely kissed my lips and stepped back to grab her purse off the bed. I growled lightly under my breath. She was right though. We were due to be at the Renaissance hotel downtown for a banquet being held in my and Emmett's honor. Being one of the guest of honor, it would be unacceptable to be late.
I grabbed my keys and wallet off the dresser and followed Bella out of the bedroom and shortly thereafter the apartment.
Once we settled into the car, we both fell into a companionable silence. My mind drifted to all of the events that occurred since being at the hospital in Maryland.
The past month had been a myriad of emotions and events. Some moments had been the worst of my life while others were some of the best. When Emmett finally woke up, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. He remained in intensive care for one more week after that because the bullet punctured his lung causing it to collapse. Emmett was required to continue using a breathing aid until the doctors felt his body was strong enough to do so on its own.
After being released from the ICU, Emmett remained in the hospital for another three weeks. Midway through those three weeks, he got the okay to be transferred to Seattle General Hospital. We all packed up and went back to Seattle, grateful to finally be back home. In the past couple of weeks, Emmett slowly returned back to normal. I don't think Rose had ever been happier to put up with his pre-pubescent jokes and commentary. Where she would normally smack him in the back of his head, she now rubbed his arm affectionately while smiling down at him. He got to the point where he was like a kid in a candy store, soaking up all of the attention he was getting.
That's not to say that he didn't have his serious moments. Emmett fully recognized how close he came to not making it. We had a discussion about it during one of his final days at the hospital. I had just come in from headquarters and talking with the Chief when I walked into Emmett's room to find him sitting up in his bed looking pensive.
"Hey Em, what's going on? Where's Rose at?" It was rare for her not to be there with him. She had taken a leave of absence at her job in order to be with him.
"I convinced her to get out of here for a while and go to lunch with Alice and Bella. I think she was beginning to go a little stir crazy being stuck in this room with me day in and day out."
I hadn't talked to Bella since this morning when I left her apartment to go into the office, so I hadn't known of her plans. It warmed my heart to know that she had become as much a part of our little family as I had.
"Then what has you thinking so hard?"
Emmett reached his hand behind his head to scratch it a bit and shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I'm just thinking back over everything that happened up in the air. I have always been prepared that something like that could happen, but I have to wonder if it's all worth it in the end."
Not sure of exactly what he meant, I asked him to clarify for me.
"I mean… is my job worth the pain that I would inflict upon Rosie if God forbid I didn't make it out alive one day? To see what these past few weeks have been like for her and to see the physical changes in her, I can't help but wonder." He looked truly torn.
"No one but you can answer that question. If you gave it up, would you be happy? Could you work a safer 9 – 5 job and feel as fulfilled? And if you cannot, is giving up this job worth it to make Rose happy? The bigger question is, have you talked to her about all of this? This is a major decision you have to make and one that you should include her in."
The two of us talked about the pro's and con's of him staying or leaving for a bit longer before falling into companionable silence.
"Yeah, what's up bro?"
"I never got a chance to thank you. None of us would have made it if it weren't for you." I felt a pang of in my heart at the thought that my Bella could have died that day and I would have been damned near powerless to prevent it. I think he could sense that by the look on his face.
I continued on, "You really had my back out there and kept me from losing my shit when I thought Bella…" I couldn't even say the words.
"I appreciate that, man. But I had your back like I knew you had mine. We're one hell of a team, huh bro?" He smirked at me, easily dissolving the tension of the serious moment.
I smirked back, "All-star baby!"
We both settled into easy convo after that and laughed at some of the good times we shared on the force together in the past.
The same day Emmett and I talked was the same day that the chief told me some unexpected news. He called me into his office and asked me to take a seat next to a man I had never met before. It turns out that the man in question was an officer of the federal aviation department. Apparently, he and Chief Fason met shortly after all of the information on James' scheme came to light. The chief was impressed with my ability to begin the investigation based on such minor details on a routine flight.
They agreed to watch to see how the investigation would play out and how the situation would be resolved before signing off on my being promoted. The Chief had been adamant that I not be made aware of the promotion talks in case it fell through for any reason. But, they were both now in full agreement that I should be promoted to Captain should I want it. I of course jumped on the opportunity.
Tonight's banquet was also in part to celebrate my new promotion as well as Emmett's retirement from the force. He and Rose decided last week that he should retire for safety and health reasons. His injuries would have the potential to impact his ability to respond as he once was able to. They also decided they wanted to start their family and as much as I hated to lose my brother on the force, I couldn't begrudge him this. I understood his decision. I knew that I would still see him outside of the force and that helped to soften the blow of his retirement.
"You okay?" Bella's gentle voice brought me out of my thought induced haze.
I gave her a quick crooked smile and told her I was.
She took the hand that was resting on the gear shift and threaded her fingers through mine. "Is this bitter-sweet for you? You know, with Em leaving and your moving into a new position and everything?"
"It's not that it's bitter-sweet per say, but it is strange to think that in a few days I will no longer be working with Jasper and Emmett. It's been us for a while now and while I know that nothing stays the same, nor would I want it to," I shot her a quick glance as I pulled the car up to the valet. "I just can't help but to want them both around as much as they have been in the past to bounce things off of, you know?"
She squeezed my hand before releasing it. "I know."
As we both exited the car, I couldn't help but think that was one of the things that I loved about Bella. She was a great listener. I've come to discover that over the past couple of months. She listens and doesn't always have to try to offer suggestions and encouraging words. More often than not, she will let me talk it out and just be there as support.
We walked hand in hand through the lobby of the hotel toward our designated banquet hall. I was stopped repeatedly from city officials, a few members of the press, and some of my fellow team-mates on the force, shaking hands and receiving congratulations.
We made it into the hall and to say I was impressed by the decorations and the amount of people who turned out would be an understatement. It was a large hall and it was decorated eloquently with gold accents on the tables and podium.
The hand shaking and small talk commenced as Bella and I worked the room. After half an hour passed, we were able to make it to our table and joined the Mayor of Seattle and his wife, Chief Fason and his wife, Em and Rose, and finally Jasper and Alice.
"Edward! You finally got a chance to break away from the crowd and join us." The Chief said with a smile.
Laughing, I responded back, "It only took an hour it seems."
"Bella!" Emmett's boisterous greeting took my attention. "Looking mighty fine if I do say so myself. You aren't trying to impress Eddie here are you? You know you've got him eating out of the palm of your hand already. " He wiggled his eyebrows up and down in a suggestive manner.
The table laughed, including Bella. I merely growled at his antics before chuckling. I kissed the side of her neck, "She sure does."
Bella blushed lightly causing me to give her a cocky smile.
She slapped my chest with her clutch purse and rolled her eyes. "Thank you Em, I just have to keep him on his toes is all. Isn't that right ladies?" Bella addressed all the women at the table.
They all gave their affirmations. We all settled into light, sociable chatter at the table waiting for the night to begin.
Dinner was served shortly thereafter. We had the average banquet meal of chicken, green beans and scalloped potatoes. The dinner hall fell into silence as the Mayor stood at the podium. He addressed the crowd, thanking everyone for their attendance and stating the reasons that we were all gathered here tonight.
Afterward, the Mayor came to shake Emmett's and my hand and took his seat again to allow the Chief to take the stage.
"Welcome everyone. As you are well aware, we are here this evening in recognition and celebration of Agent Masen and Agent McCarty for the courage and heroism they displayed on board flight 2804 last month. Their efforts and unwillingness to give up in the face of incredible obstacles saved 54 lives that day…"
Chief Fason went on to tell everyone about our dedication and how we were both huge assets to the department and how proud he was of us. We were then each presented with a plaque and a medal for our action on board the flight. We were received with a standing ovation.
The most memorable part of the evening, however, were the thanks and testimonies given from a couple of passengers who had been on the flight that day. Bella gripped my hand tightly under the table throughout each addresses. At one point, I looked around the table and noticed nearly everyone had tears in their eyes. When a tribute to Michael Newton's life was given, I soothingly rubbed circles in Bella's shoulders while she silently cried and laid her head on my shoulder. She still had not openly talked about what happened in that cockpit. I could only hope that she was able to work through some of her grief through the therapy sessions she was attending weekly.
After the tribute, a few words were said about Emmett's leaving the force and my being promoted to Captain, to which we both received another round of applause.
Finally, the evening came to a close and after hugging our closest friends good bye, Bella and I were able to slip away. It felt great to be recognized, but at the end of the day we had be doing our job and abiding by the oath that we USAM's live by to protect all innocent passengers on board a flight. I certainly have no regrets about that day in that regard.
Once we made it back to my place, we immediately headed for the bedroom. I think we both felt spent from the emotional aspects of the evening and wanted the comfort of each other's arms to sooth the stress away.
We quickly and quietly changed out of our clothing into more bed appropriate attire and slipped under the covers.
I wrapped my arms around Bella spooning her back with the front of my body. I kissed the back of her shoulder and asked if she were alright.
"I'm fine, Edward. I only want to feel your arms around me. Be in this moment of contentment and love. Tonight made me relive portions of that day and I am so thankful that we are both here together, right now."
She turned in my arms so that she was facing me. "I love you, Edward. So damned much."
I pressed my lips to hers. "I love you too. More with each passing day."
We continued to kiss each other sweetly for what seemed like hours, but were likely closer to minutes. I kissed down her neck and her collar bone. She shifted her body so that I was lying on top of her. I kept my weight off of her as I propped up on my elbows.
Slowly, our clothes were removed and I settled myself between her thighs. We made slow, passionate love. Every ounce of love and desire I held for her, for us was given to her body.
"I love you." Was repeatedly shared between us.
Our hands caressed each other's skin.
Our lips were kissing and tasting each other in any areas accessible in our position.
As her body started to tense in preparation for release, I saw a solitary tear slip from the corner of her eye. I knew it wasn't out of pain, but rather the intense feelings she was experiencing.
"I love you. I love you. I love you." I continued to whisper in her ear.
That drove her over the edge and as she climaxed I felt myself follow right behind her.
She held onto me for several minutes afterward, not letting me move. My body weight pressing down on hers.
I stared at her. Her eyes closed and a small beautiful smile on her face. She finally opened her eyes and released her hold on me so that I could turn our bodies so that she lay on me.
We continued to gaze at each other for a moment more before she said, "You have all of me and always will. I love you more than words can say. Thank you for loving and protecting me, Edward."
Her sentiments made my heart grow. She was it for me as well. I know that we may have started our relationship fast, but the pull I have toward her was undeniable. She meant more to me than anything in this world, and if she let me I would spend my life showing her.
I kissed the tip of her nose. "Sleep now, baby. I will be right here when you wake up. For now and always." That was an oath I never planned to break.
AN: It's over. *tear* I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this story and hope that you enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much to everyone who R&R'd. You have all touched my heart. Thank you to those of you who helped me with ideas and edits. This story is so much more because of you. *Limona, Delsig, Muffn'Butter, MsWendyHill* Thank you!!!