Disclaimer: There really isn't much I own in life—Twilight would be one of those in the 'don't own' category.
A/N: Ok, maybe I should explain myself. The last chapter was a little shorter than the others, but that's only because I really didn't want to take focus away from the major point of the chapter: the accident. In all actuality though, CH 4 was only 200 words less than Ch 3, and no one said anything about that one. That being said, this is the last chapter, I think. I've worked extra hard on it for you guys, so I hope it doesn't disappoint. As always, I am open for ideas and thoughts, both happy and not-so-happy.
[ Chapter Five ]
"Merry Christmas!" I heard from the kitchen as Alice and Jasper walked in the door.
"I'm in the kitchen!" I called, bending over to check the turkey for the millionth time that morning. Edward was still in bed, although I don't understand how he could have slept through the racket I had been making in the kitchen. Since our argument about the accident, he'd been even more distant with me, asking me to leave the house when Jasper would come over. I knew he needed a friend to help him figure things out, but in the end it hurt me worse to know he didn't want me there.
I had been working hard to deal with the guilt I felt towards the accident. Edward only wanted what was best for me, but it was difficult because that left him not focusing on what was best for him. He couldn't see it, but I could—what was best for him was to resume his intense therapies and get back to normal. But what he saw was best was getting me to overcome my guilt. I suppose a compromise of both could have been made, but that hardly happened around this house anymore.
Alice came bouncing into the kitchen, wearing a dark green holiday dress. "Oh, Alice, you look so beautiful!"
I felt unkempt, still in pajama pants and a tank top. I'd been up since 5:30 am and it was only 8, but I hadn't seen any need to get dressed up with so much cooking to do. Besides, with my luck, the turkey would have been all over me, accenting my holiday outfit in a way that would make Alice cringe for centuries.
Alice smiled. "Thanks, Bella, I'd say the same for you, but I know it's not nice to lie on Christmas." She held up a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. "I come bearing a peace offering."
I smiled, gladly taking it from her. "Ok, ok, peace." I cradled it between my hands, sipping the delicious warmth of the French vanilla.
"Is Edward still sleeping?" She asked, peering around into the living room cautiously. Although she and Edward had made up, I know she was still anxious around him on occasions, expecting another 'Edwisode' as her and I had taken to calling them.
I shrugged. "I guess so." I had told Alice about our little fight, and since then she'd stopped talking to me about her and Jasper trying for a baby. I knew she thought it would upset me but I tried to assure her that it was more than fine, but she wouldn't have any of that. Alice was too good of a friend, and even more too-good of a sister. She'd been patient through all of my breakdowns and breakthroughs over the last three years. At times, she was the only one I'd wanted to talk to, and I would sneak off to call her when I became desperate. So, she'd gone mum about wanting to be a mom, and had begun relentlessly assuring me that Edward would come around in his own time, reminding me that he brooded in his own way. I couldn't very well argue with that.
"Jasper said he's been in a good mood the last couple times they've talked. That's a good sign." Here came Optimistic Alice again. As if I didn't see that coming. But I was grateful for her positive outlook. Sometimes it was the only thing I had left to cling to.
I nodded. "So what did you bring for dessert?" I tried to peek into the bag she had brought, but she snatched it behind her back, shooing me backwards for effect.
She smiled, opening the large bag and holding up a glass cake pan proudly. "I made red velvet cake, one of Edward's favorites. It's Grandma Cullen's recipe, so it has to be good." She placed it on the side table and began arranging the poinsettia's around it to make a festive holiday display. After she did that, she moved on to the dining room table, fluffing the napkins and correctly lining up the silverware.
I leaned over the sink, peeling potatoes. "Thanks, Alice, he'll love it." Alice pulled a trash can over to her chair and began shucking ears of corn. It had become our holiday ritual. "When's everyone else coming?"
"I'm pretty sure Emmett and Rosalie will be over closer to lunch. I think they were exchanging personal gifts before they came over." She cringed, and a mental image conjured up in my head.
"Glad they do that at home first."
She nodded. "I'm sure Mom and Dad will be here soon. I know Mom wanted to help out with the cooking. Plus, she loves spending as much time as she can with Edward."
I smiled, thinking of Edward's parents. They had treated me like one of their own from the first time I met them. It made me feel good to know they loved me and accepted me. Even when Edward had pushed them away after the accident, they had remained a strong force in my life. "Charlie will be here around lunch time as well. I think he has a lady friend that he's been hiding from me, so they'll spend the morning together."
Alice raised an eyebrow. "And just how did that get past me?!"
I laughed. "I don't know, Alice. I guess you're starting to lose your touch."
We talked about the family for a little while, Alice filling me in on the latest news—Emmett and Rosalie were thinking about getting a pet rather than trying for a baby, but kept arguing over what to get—Rosalie wanted a dog and Emmett wanted a pot-bellied pig. Time started to fly, and soon Carlisle and Esme arrived. Esme looked stunning in a wine red dress, and Carlisle was wearing dress pants, a button down shirt, and a tie with Santa Claus on it.
"Merry Christmas, daughters of mine," Carlisle said, kissing our cheeks before going to join Jasper in the living room, who was completely engrossed in a new book about the Civil War that Alice had let him have early so he'd stop worrying about whether or not he was getting it for Christmas.
Esme came behind me and gave my shoulder a light squeeze. "Bella, why don't you let me finish peeling the potatoes? I'm sure your hands must be exhausted by now."
I handed her the peeler and sat down next to Alice, picking up an ear of corn, which she quickly snatched away from me. "Nope, to the shower you go! You have to start getting ready! Everyone else will be here soon and you'll still be in…those pajamas! What happened to the ones that I bought you last year? Tell me you didn't give them to Goodwill, Bella, or so help me! Shoo! Leave the cooking to us Cullen women!"
"Alice, you aren't even a Cullen anymore, and I am, in case you haven't noticed."
"Just because I don't carry the last name doesn't mean I'm still not a Cullen woman by blood. Well anyway, I meant leave the cooking to the original Cullen women. Now shoo!" She was trying awfully hard to scoot me out of the kitchen, and I was beginning to get suspicious.
Alice got a text message on her phone, flipped it open, smiled at it, and then glared back at me. "I mean it, Isabella!"
"Alice what are you plotting?" I tried to look over at her phone screen.
She stuffed the phone in the bottom of her purse so fast I almost didn't catch her. "Nothing! Now go! It's going to take at least half an hour to do your hair and I want it done before Charlie gets here!" She all but pushed me.
As I came into the living room, I saw Jasper and Carlisle standing there, looking nervous, hands wrung together tightly. I was confused at what was going on.
But then I saw it.
Edward was coming down the hallway from his room. He was wearing a white button-down shirt with a midnight blue tie, and dark grey dress pants. He looked so handsome.
But that wasn't what stopped me.
Ever so slowly and patiently, Edward was walking towards me without the use of his wheelchair! He steadied himself against the wall with his hand, taking small baby steps. It almost looked like he was barely moving, but everyone saw it. I wanted to rush up to him and tell him how excited I was for him, but I knew how important this moment was, and I didn't want to take that away.
I heard Esme gasp in the background as she came out of the kitchen, a proud-mother moment for her I'm sure. Edward kept his eyes trained on me, nervousness showing in them. After a few moments I couldn't take it anymore and I rushed up to him, throwing my arms around him, tears pouring down my face.
"Oh, Edward! What are you doing?" I choked out, feeling like an idiot as soon as I asked the question.
He leaned back to look at me, his thumb attempting to wipe away some of my tears. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm coming in to see what's for breakfast!" He chuckled softly.
I shook my head. "You-you-you're walking!"
He smiled an old familiar Edward smile, one that I hadn't seen in years. "Well, I was until you stopped me."
I smiled and hugged him close again. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He looked across the room at Jasper. "Jasper's been helping me practice for a while now. That's why I kept asking you to leave the house. I didn't want to ruin the surprise for you. But I only got good at it the other day. At least, without using my crutches. I just wanted to give you the one thing you've been asking for, Bella. I'm sorry I didn't tell you." His calloused hand was softly caressing my forearms, his breath fanning against my face. I felt like I was going to pass out from extreme excitement and shock.
I smiled at him. "I'm so proud of you." I leaned in, placing my head on his shoulder.
I felt him throw his arms around me, kissing the top of my head. "Merry Christmas, love."
After Edward's surprise, I took a shower and Alice did my hair and makeup. She put me in a black cocktail dress, simple yet elegant, promising me that it would look great next to Edward in the family Christmas picture. I had just come back downstairs and was checking on the turkey when I heard the doorbell.
"I'll get it," I said, making my way to the door. When I opened it, Rosalie stood there smiling, while Emmett was hiding behind a pile of presents.
"Merry Christmas, Bella!" she said as she hugged me. "I love the dress," she winked.
"Merry Christmas, Bella," Emmett mumbled behind the pyramid of presents. He shuffled into the house, guided by Rosalie, where he dumped the presents down by the tree. I heard them bickering over how soft Emmett hadn't put the presents down, and chuckled, glad the family was all here. When Emmett turned around, I couldn't help but laugh. The green sweater he was wearing was decked out in Christmas lights that were actually blinking.
"What, you don't like my outfit?" He asked as he did a twirl, his hands over his head like a ballerina.
"Oh, Emmett, you always know how to brighten up a room!" Jasper said between laughs, tears streaming down his face. Carlisle was next to him, holding on to his knee to keep himself from losing complete composure.
Rosalie shook her head in embarrassment. "I begged him not to wear it, but you know how Emmett is—he insisted."
"You're darn skippy I did! When else was I going to have a chance to wear this piece of fashion art? Besides, I wanted to stand out in the family picture this year," he grinned, his whole face lighting up. The best part about Emmett was that he didn't even try to be funny, he just was.
Carlisle patted Emmett on the shoulder. "Someone's gotta keep the Christmas spirit alive, son."
"Oh, I think Edward already did that!" Alice smiled giddily, while Esme beamed proudly.
Emmett looked confused. "Huh? What'd I miss? Did Edward string lights to his chair and time them to "The Carol of the Bells?" He frowned, assuming he had been out-lighted by his brother.
Edward stood up from his wheelchair, which he had been sitting in because he was tired from his earlier show. He had a huge smile on his face as he looked over to Emmett and took a few cautious steps. I saw Rosalie's eyes begin to widen and water as she took in the sight of Edward walking.
Emmett's eyes grew as big as saucers. "Brother, you can walk!" He rushed over, squeezing Edward into a big hug. He looked back at Rosalie. "Babe, we have to get TiVo so I can tape the parades from now on—I always miss the good family stuff because of it!"
We all laughed. Emmett looked back at Edward. "Man, am I sure glad to see you up and moving again! That chair was really cramping your style!"
Edward shook his head, a gleam still in his eyes. "Thanks, Emmett. It feels good to be on the way back."
As we all sat down to Christmas lunch, I couldn't help but smile big as we went around the table, saying things we were thankful for. While some where thankful for health, and for being together, I couldn't help but think about how blessed we all had really been.
"What about you, Bells? What are you thankful for?" Emmett asked.
I smiled. "Of course, I'm thankful we all can be together." Everyone smiled.
"Edward?" Jasper asked, taking a sip of his wine.
Edward looked to me, smiled, and began. "I'm very thankful to have such a supportive family. Every one of you has been there for me, even when I didn't want anyone to be." He took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "But I'm most thankful for you, Bella. I could have never come this far without your help and your devotion to me. You never gave up on me, even after I had given up on myself. I know these past three years haven't been easy, but I'm hoping that will change. I love you, more than you'll ever be able to understand."
Tears filled my eyes for the millionth time that day, and for the first time in what felt like years, Edward leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips. The family erupted in 'awws' and applause, and I smiled at Edward.
"Edward, I love you, too."
While we opened Christmas presents, Edward and Alice played the piano. Edward told Alice when to press the foot pedals, while Edward played the notes on the keys. It was choppy, but we all managed to sing out our favorite Christmas carols. Emmett was elected Santa, and he named Jasper as his 'trusty elf' who in all actuality was responsible for making sure the wrapping paper was put in a bag to go out to the trash.
I looked over at the piano and smiled. It was so good to see the old Edward coming back. I knew he still had a long road ahead of him, but this was the start of something good.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their presents, and after bagging them up and sending home leftovers, they all left, couple by couple. Carlisle and Esme were the last to leave. Esme was hugging Edward when Carlisle came up to me, hugging me softly.
"You know, Bella, you've always been the one who's saved Edward, even from himself. Esme and I can't thank you enough for being part of our family."
I smiled. "Well, Carlisle, your son is simply too charming to resist, what can I say?"
He chuckled. "Thank you for giving us our son back. We love you very much."
"I love you both, too. Thank you for being so patient with Edward while he makes his recovery. I'm hoping this will lead to more great new moments for all of us."
Esme kissed me goodbye, promising to come over with Carlisle and take down the Christmas decorations when I needed help. I ushered them out, and sighed when I shut the door behind me. I went back to the living room, where Edward was sitting on the couch, beginning to doze off. I ran my hand softly through his bronze hair. He stirred, looking up at me and smiling. He pulled me down on the couch next to him and I leaned my head on his shoulder.
"Did you have a good Christmas, love?" He asked while drawing circles on the back of my hand with his finger.
I smiled. "Quite possibly the best Christmas ever."
He looked up at me. "Bella, I'm sorry—"
I cut him off, placing a finger over his lips. "There will be no apologies tonight, Edward. There's nothing to be sorry for. You gave me exactly what I wanted, and I couldn't be happier."
He smiled and whispered a soft "I love you" before placing another kiss on my lips.
I returned the kiss, smiling at him. "You look tired; perhaps we should put you to bed."
"Will you help me?" he asked.
"How could I refuse such a cute face?" I mocked. I helped him up, allowing him to put some of his weight on me as we walked into his bedroom. When he turned the light on, I gasped. "Edward---"
He smiled. "Do you like it?"
There, in his room, was a brand new queen-sized bed in the place where the former twin bed used to be. The guest room now looked much smaller.
"When did you---why did you---"
He squeezed my hand. "It came the other day while you were out getting your nails done with Alice. I ordered it because I miss you and I'm tired of being alone, knowing you're upstairs at night. I miss having you next to me. I miss listening to you talk in your sleep. I even miss you pushing me so you can have more than half of the bed. I still can't climb the stairs, and I don't know how long that will be. And, I just want you near me."
Another tear betrayed me by falling down my cheek. "You really want me to stay with you?"
"Silly Bella, of course I do! You are my wife, and also the love of my life. I know I've been horrible and unwelcoming to you for quite a while now; but I was so afraid that I wasn't enough for you, so I pushed you away, hoping you'd find someone better to fill my shoes."
"Now that's silly."
He chuckled. "Yea, that's kind of what Jasper said, too. He's really helped me get my life back into perspective. But I know I never would have let him back in had it not been for you."
I smiled. "Well, let me go change and I'll meet you back down here."
He nodded, kissing my cheek. "Don't be too long. I miss you when you're away."
I all but ran up the stairs, tripping twice. Assuring Edward I was alright once I made it up the stairs, I quickly changed into some plaid pajama shorts and a red tank top. I pulled my hair back in a pony tail and my eyes wandered over to my journal. My last entry hadn't been so great. I sat down and picked up my pen.
Dear Diary, I know it sounds stupid that I've hated you for so long, but here I am celebrating that today Edward walked on his own! It was a true Christmas miracle and gift. Things are looking up, and I can only hope the New Year will bring more recovery for him as he pushes forward.
I placed the pen down and smiled. Yes, this was the best Christmas ever.
I shuffled downstairs to find Edward half-dressed, struggling to get his shoes and socks off. I smiled. "Here, let me help." I helped him change into blue plaid pajama pants and a white t-shirt. I gave him his medication and some water and helped him settle into our new bed. I crawled in next to him and felt him scoot close to me, wrapping an arm around my waist to pull me close. I inhaled his scent and smiled. It had been too long since we had done this.
He kissed my neck softly. "Bella?"
I turned to smile at him. "Yes, Edward?"
I kissed him tenderly. "Yes, Merry Christmas."
We lay there quietly, just enjoying being together.
"Bella?" Edward asked again, unsure of whether or not I had fallen asleep.
"I know it's kind of early, but what's your New Year's Resolution?"
I thought for a second. "To spend more time with our family. What about you?"
He kissed my neck again, and I could feel him smiling. "Do you really want to know?"
I nodded. "Of course I do."
"Well, my New Year's resolution is to start a family of our own."
I felt my body stiffen but then relaxed. I could do this. We could do this. "You mean you want to have a baby with me?"
"Is that alright with you?" He whispered.
I nodded. "That's more than alright with me."
"Bella, that's great news!"
I felt my heart race. I knew this was a big step for us. But if Edward had taken some major steps for me, I could take one for him.
"I love you, you know," I said softly to him as I felt him begin to let himself fall asleep.
"I love you, Isabella Cullen."
I smiled. Yes, we could do this. One step at a time.
A/N: Well, folks, there you have it. It's been fun writing this and even more fun to read the nice things that you all have said to me! I have a few thoughts in my head about a potential sequel, but I want to know what you guys think, so, let me know, okay? I'm excited about working towards a new piece, so until we meet again, thank you.