Review of Chapter 2
"I will be with you again soon." She promised. I walked up to her quickly kissing her once quickly and passionately again, and then turned around and walked away waving behind me.
"I'll see you in a few hours." I called over my shoulder.
It was all I could do to keep myself from running home. I was so excited about tonight. I was going to be introducing Bella to my family. I knew they were going to love her, and Charlie and Renee too. I had some planning to do before Bella got to my house. There was something I wanted to do, but I had to build up to that moment. I had to know for sure that she was feeling what I was feeling. The kiss...THAT KISS...was amazing. I was sure she felt the fire that erupted around us when we kissed. It was her that deepened the kiss. I realized that I was walking down the streets of London smiling to myself, and laughing out loud like a school girl. I could care less. When I got to our house, I took the stairs two at a time up to the door.
"Mother!" I called out when I got through the entryway.
"In here, dear!" I heard her call from the kitchen. I ran into the room, and scooped my mother up in a big hug and spun her around.
"Edward!" She laughed. I put her down and kissed her forehead, and flopped down at one of the stools at our island.
"My dear, you are positively glowing. What has happened to you today?!" She went back to work in making the pie she was working on, but her attention was turned towards me.
"Bella, mother. Bella happened to me."
"I can see that. And I can't wait to meet this girl who has my boy all a light." She smiled.
"Edward...I thought I heard you." Alice said as she sauntered into the kitchen with her husband Jasper behind her. "Mother was just telling me that you invited...what's going on with you?!"
"What?!" I asked.
"You have the biggest grin on your face that I have ever seen. Well, maybe not that I have ever seen." She winked at Jasper. Jasper cleared his throat.
"She's right, brother. You look like you just found a super model in your stocking." He laughed.
"No, not a supermodel in my stocking. An angel in the square." I sighed, winked at them both grabbing a handful of the carrots my mother was chopping, and took off to my room. I could hear mother and Alice talking about not being able to wait until 6 as I bounded up the stairs. I couldn't wait either, but there was someone in this house I needed to talk to. My father. This was a conversation we had never had, and I need a father's advice. I found him in his study.
"Father, do you have a minute?" I asked knocking on the door frame.
"Of course, Edward." He said setting down his book. "I hear we have some special guests coming tonight."
"Yes." I said, sitting down across from him. "That is what I wanted to talk to you about."
"What's wrong, my boy?" He asked concerned and sitting forward.
"Nothing's wrong, father. Everything is right!" I said running my hand through my hair. "I think I am in love with a woman I have only known for 4 hours. Am I insane?"
My father laughed heartily, sitting back in his chair.
"Not what I was expecting." He calmed himself apologetically. "Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. Tell me about these last four hours, before I make my diagnosis."
I told my father every detail about the last four hours. Every conversation. Every glance. Every lingering gaze. Every touch. How everything felt so easy and natural with Bella. How her family already felt like my own. How she felt like...home.
"Definitely not insane, son." My father smiled at me. "Do you remember me telling you about the first time I met your mother?"
"Yes. She had broken her leg, and you were in your residency at the hospital she was brought to, and you took way longer setting a cast than was needed, just so you could stay and talk with her." I repeated the story I had heard over and over again.
"That's right, because I knew." He said. "I knew from the first time I saw her beauty. Then this magnificent creature opened her mouth, and I found an equally beautiful and loving soul under the surface. I knew someday I was going to marry this woman. That she was going to be the mother of my children. My home. 25 years later, Edward, I am still that smitten young man."
"I just never imagined it would happen for me." I said looking down at my hands. "How did you know mother felt the same way?"
"I didn't, but I took the chance. The moment came upon us, that I knew it was the right time to tell her how I felt. I didn't know for sure what she would say, but I had a feeling that she felt the same. If you feel as strongly as I think you do, Edward, then take the chance, son. With great love comes great risk, but the return is more than you could ever imagine if it is reciprocated."
"Thanks, father. This is just what I needed." I sighed contentedly, getting up from my chair.
"A drop of liquid courage doesn't hurt either." My father said with a wink tapping the side of the glass in front of him. "I can't wait to meet the Swans, son."
"I know you will love them." I smiled.
"I'm sure we will. Tell your mother I will be down in a minute." He said waving me off.
The door bell rang when I got downstairs, and I went to the door. It was a quarter til' 6. I held my breath as I opened it.
"Uncle Edward!!!" Two voices cried out, and suddenly my favorite two little guys were crashing into my legs. I grabbed them up, and squeezed them both into a bear hug until they were squealing that they couldn't breathe. I loosened my grip, but didn't put them down.
"Hey, Rosie" I said, kissing her cheek. She gave me a knowing smile, and walked her arms full of food to the kitchen.
"Where's my kiss, hot stuff?" Emmett laughed from behind her, carrying bags of presents toward the tree.
"I'm saving it for my mistletoe moment, big guy." I jibed back at him, as I closed up the door.
"Where are my boys?" Esme called as she came out of the kitchen. They ran to her and hugged her. She laughed. Esme loved children, and had adopted the boys as honorary grandkids. Carlisle came down at the sound of the boys voices. They ran over, and their hands greedily searched his coat pockets. He always kept candy in there when he knew they were coming. Everyone had moved into the living room, and were sitting around talking and settling in, when the doorbell rang. It was 6. I took a deep breath, and stood up. Everyone smiled at me, and Esme and Carlisle rose to follow me. I opened the door to see the face I had been missing for the last two hours. I exhaled slowly. Had I been holding my breath for the last 15 minutes?
"Charlie. Renee. Bella." I saved her name for last, so I could linger on her face. "Come in, please. These are my parents, Carlisle and Esme Cullen."
"Very pleased to meet you. You are very welcome." Esme said with her sincerity ringing with every word. Everyone shook hands. Charlie looked a little nervous. Renee looked very curious. Bella looked anxious. As I shut the door behind them, I heard Bella talking to my mother, and I didn't realize at first that she was carrying something.
"Thank-you so much for inviting us to share in your Christmas Eve. Renee and I noticed a green grocer near our hotel, and it inspired us to try out something we learned in a class we took last year. I hope you like it." Bella said nervously. She was shy around strangers. I looked over curiously to see what she was handing my mother. It looked like a beautiful bouquet, but on further inspection, I could see it was an arrangement of fruit put together to look like flowers. It was extraordinary.
"Bella, dear, it is lovely." Esme said, impressed. She showed it off to the room as I helped the Swans with their coats. Emmett came around the corner, and ushered Charlie off to get a drink with Carlisle. Esme and Renee walked off talking into the kitchen. Bella turned towards me, and I instinctively, reached out and took her hand. She looked down at our hands, and then up to my face with a radiant smile.
"I know this might sound silly, but I missed you." She whispered.
"I missed you too." I whispered back, brushing her cheek with my other hand. She closed her eyes and blushed at my touch. Just then, I felt a little hand around my leg.
"Daddy and mommy were right, Uncle Edward. She is pretty." Said a little voice. Bella looked down at him, the blush returning to her cheeks again.
"This little man is Phillip. Phillip, this is Bella." I introduced. He reached out his arms, and Bella took him and he hugged her. She smiled with a shocked look on her face, and he squirmed his way down and ran back to the other room.
"And this is his wonderful sister Alice." Alice introduced herself. "Who is also going to hug you." Alice gave Bella a warm hug. Jasper followed Alice and shook Bella's hand. We walked into the living room, where Bella sat down next to Rose, and met John. Dinner was a lively affair. It was a torrent of conversation and plates and glasses. Esme and Renee fell into easy conversation about gardening and cooking like they were old friends. Carlisle and Emmett were talking football, while Charlie and Jasper were talking about hunting. Alice grilled Bella about every aspect of her life, and Bella answer each question easily, falling into a comfortable conversation with my sister. I just watched and listened to Bella's answers. Learning about her childhood. Her awkward teenage years. Her time at Harvard. Mostly though, I was watching her lips move as she spoke. The way she would bite her lip when she was embarrassed or anxious about an answer to one of Alice's questions. The joy in her eyes when it came to talking about her parents, home, or books. I was drinking her all in.
After dinner, Charlotte and Peter joined us for dessert. I explained to the Swans that Charlotte was our angel for the tickets to the park. She asked them how they liked it, and the girls talked about what they saw, while Peter drooled talking to Charlie and I about the food. Conversation was dying down a bit, when my mother tapped my shoulder.
"Will you play, Edward, dear?" She smiled at me in her way that she knew I couldn't refuse.
"Of course, mother." I said kissing her hand, and then I turned to Bella. "Will you join me?"
"I don't play." She looked confused.
"I just want you close." I whispered in her ear. She blushed and nodded, and I led her over to sit with me at the piano. "Any requests, mother?"
"You know my favorite, Edward." She smiled.
I started in playing a very jazzy 'Christmas Time Is Here'. Bella's eyes opened in surprise as I played. I looked up to meet Esme's smile, and then turned to Bella and winked. She looked up at Esme who had come to stand by the piano.
"This is one of my favorites too." Bella told her. "Something about it says innocence and it just makes you feel at home."
"I couldn't agree more, dear." Esme smiled. "I'm so glad you and your parents are here with us."
Esme walked back over to sit with Renee, Charlie, and Carlisle. I continued playing my song, and I could feel Bella's gaze shift from my hands to my face. It is lucky that I had played this song almost every Christmas for almost two decades, because there were times I caught her gaze, and got lost in her eyes. I was looking for that sign...that clue...that she was feeling what I was feeling. And then I felt her small hand once again on my thigh, and she leaned over and rested her head on my shoulder gently, so not to interrupt my playing. I closed my eyes, and sighed at the peaceful feeling rushing over me. Bella sat up and joined everyone's applause. I played a few more requests from the boys for Jingle Bells, and the like, and soon Rose and Emmett convinced the boys they had to get home before Santa got there. They made the Swans promise to stop by the pub again, before they left town, and there were hugs all around.
The company was down to my parents, Alice, Jasper, and the Swans. I sat back down and started softly playing Ave Maria. Renee leaned her head over onto Charlie's shoulder, and Bella reached over and held her mom's hand as they listened. My father had his arms draped around my mother's waist, and was leaning his chin on her shoulder. Jasper and Alice were laying on the rug playing a game of chess. I glanced up from my playing to look at the scene around the room. Then it hit me. This was my family. The family I wanted. My biological family, and the family I desired to be a part of. I looked over at Bella to see a single tear running down her cheek as I concluded my song. She smiled and brushed it away as I finished.
"Is there anything this boy can't do?" Charlie asked Carlisle jokingly.
"Not that he has found yet." Alice chimed in, sticking her tongue out at me from the floor. Everyone laughed.
"What does your family usually do for Christmas Eve, Renee?" Esme asked.
"We usually eat a big dinner, like you have here, and then we watch It's A Wonderful Life or something Christmasy, and then we all curl up by the fireplace together as Bella reads to us from A Christmas Carol." Renee smiled at Bella. She blushed when she realized everyone was looking at her.
"That sounds wonderful. Would you read a bit for us, Bella?" Esme asked. "Just your favorite passage."
I smiled and nodded at her in encouragement. She agreed, and Carlisle returned from his study with his copy. I watched as Bella thumbed through her pages. Jasper and Alice put aside their game, and Alice laid her head back on Japser's chest and settled herself between his legs, as he leaned back on the sofa. I watched as Bella decided what she wanted to read, and then she came to rest on something, and gently caressed the words on the page. I walked over and sat down next to her. She smiled at me, and then everyone else, and began. She read the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Past and Ebenezer watching him fall in love as a young man. I hoped that this choice had a personal meaning for her, as it most certainly did for me.
The clock chimed ten o'clock as Bella finished.
"Well, we have most certainly over stayed our welcome." Charlie muttered in embarrassment at the time.
"Not at all." Carlisle insisted. "It has been a pleasure for my family to have you here with us this Christmas Eve."
"A complete pleasure." Esme added. She gave Carlisle a look, and he gave her a little nod in return. "In fact, if you don't have plans for tomorrow morning, we would love it if you would join us for Christmas brunch. I whip up a big spread, and now we have the addition of the lovely fruit you brought us."
"We have no plans to speak of." Renee asked while checking with Charlie with his own glance. He smiled his ascent. They began to stand up to make ready to leave. Bella shot a disappointed look at me, and began to stand up as well. I wasn't ready for her to leave yet. Apparently, Alice wasn't either.
"Oh shoot." Alice pouted convincingly. "I was hoping we could steal Bella for a fourth in a game of cards. Another time, I guess." Thank-you, Alice.
"Charlie, Renee, if it is alright with you, if Bella would like to stay, might I ask your permission to escort Bella back to your hotel after a game or two of cards?" Please say yes. Please say yes.
"Bella?" Renee asked.
"I would like to stay, if you guys don't mind. But if you want me to come, I will." She added.
"If you aren't intruding on any family time..." Renee looked to my parents.
"Bella is very welcome to stay." Esme assured her.
"That is fine with us, Bells. Not too late. Your pops will worry." Charlie winked and gave Bella a quick hug. Renee hugged her and the rest of us as well, as Charlie shook the men's hands and was hugged by the women. He blushed like Bella at the attention.
"Merry Christmas! Good night!" We all waved and called from the door way as we watched them catch a taxi.
Once back inside, Carlisle and Esme decided it was time to tuck in.
"Bella, dear, we are so glad you and your family joined us." Esme said as she hugged Bella. "I certainly hope this is not the last time we meet."
"You are always welcome in our home." Carlisle said as he hugged Bella as well.
Then they gave Alice, Jasper, and I hugs and kisses and wished us all Merry Christmas as they headed upstairs to bed.
"Oh, Jasper, I forgot there are still a few presents I forgot to wrap!" Alice exclaimed. "Will you help me?"
"Sure" Jasper smiled. He saw what she was up to from the moment she mentioned cards. They both hugged Bella and I, and headed off to bed themselves.
All that was left in the room now was a crackling fireplace, a glowing Christmas tree, Bella, and myself. I walked around the room slowly, and turned out all the lights, so all that was left r the room was the tree and the fire. I walked over to where Bella was standing in the middle of the room watching me, and I wrapped my arms around her. She laid her head against my chest, and snaked her arms around my waist.
"How did you know?" She asked softly.
"Know what?" I asked.
"That this is my favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve." She said.
"You mean curling up in the living room with just the lights of the Christmas tree and the fire to light the room?" I asked.
"Because it is my favorite thing as well."
She looked up at me, and I looked down at her. Her brown eyes sparkled in the light being cast from the tree. I was dazzled by those eyes and the woman behind them most of all. I lifted one of my hands from around her, and brushed the hair from her face, and trailed my hand the length of her hair to her waist. She sighed, and closed her eyes momentarily. When they fluttered back open, and took both hands and cupped her small face in them. Then I leaned down, and slowly rubbed my lips across hers. She exhaled into my mouth, and it left the sweetest taste on my tongue. I began to kiss her softly. Muttering her name softly as my heart tried to burst forth from my chest once again.
"Yes, Edward." She said as our lips continued to brush and kiss against each other.
"I am falling in love with you." She stopped kissing then, and looked fully into my eyes. But it wasn't the shock or dread that I was fearing in her eyes. It was love. Love was staring back at me from those eyes.
"Oh, Edward. I was so afraid it was just me. I have never felt this way about anyone. You are an amazing man, and I want to spend as much time as you will give me getting to know you more, but I can tell you that this whole day has been about falling in love with you."
"I have something for you." I said, pulling the box I had purchased earlier at the park from my pocket. I held it out for her. She took it, and her breath caught in her throat.
"A promise ring." She said softly.
"Yes. I knew you would know what it was. I am not asking anything of you right now, Bella, but this is a symbol of my promise to you. I promise to spend the rest of my life, if you let me, getting to know you, caring for you, and loving only you. Do you accept my gift and it's meaning?"
"I do" She said looking lovingly into my eyes. I reached into the box, and slid the ring onto her right finger. I took her in my arms then, and kissed her with all the passion I could put into that kiss. I knew then that I never wanted to let this beautiful woman out of my site again. I wanted to spend the rest of my life loving her.
"Daddy...is that a true story?" the little girl asked.
"Yes, angel, it is." I told her. Bella walked in then holding out her right hand for Lizzy to see the promise ring that still adorned her finger.
"Did daddy keep his promise?" Lizzy asked Bella.
"Oh yes. More than I ever imagined possible." Bella said looking down at me with the same look of love she gave me 10 years ago.
"Is that the best present daddy ever gave you?" Thomas asked.
"No, sweetie. The best gift he ever gave me was you and your sister." Bella smiled kissing him and tucking him in.
"I'd rather have toys." Thomas said decidedly.
Bella and I laughed. "Of course you would, son. Now good night, you two, or Santa will skip right on by."
Bella and I tucked our children in, and walked arm and arm to bed.
Yes, this is the end. This was just a quick holiday fluff piece I had in my brain. Now back to my other stories. I hope you enjoyed this quick piece. Please review and let me know what you think!