A/N: This is the long awaited - ha ha you know I couldn't really wait long - sequel to Return to Me. A few months have passed in between stories. Edward is now living in the new house.
Thanks for betaing Twikers.
Characters are not mine.
Chapter 1 Avoidant
Bella Cullen… Mrs. Edward Cullen… Mrs. Cullen. Bella doodled lazily on her note pad. She had an important task to accomplish before Edward picked her up after he got off work, but she couldn't concentrate. All she could think about was Edward and his lips and his eyes and his hair and his hands. Bella still couldn't believe that someone as perfect as Edward could love someone as flawed as her. They had been together for nine months, three weeks, and four days. Well that didn't count the three weeks they broke up in September after they found out Bella had his dead wife's heart; they each had broken up with the other thinking it was what the other one needed.
Since that time, they both tried their best not to think about it. They had grown closer and even more in love. Somehow finding out that Edward was a bit insecure, maybe even a little insane, made him even more perfect in Bella's eyes. Rosalie was concerned about the fact that he'd been completely obsessive and stalkerish during the time they were apart, but Bella found it completely endearing and romantic. Not only that, but Edward found Bella's own neuroses cute. When she got irritated or mad about stupid things, all he had to do was give her that adorable dazzling smile, and it would pull her out of her pout nine times out ten – well six or seven times out of ten at least.
Bella looked down at her beautiful diamond ring and sighed. She'd never had anything this beautiful before. As she moved it back and forth to reflect in the sunlight streaming in her window, she remembered that she was supposed to be making a list of what she wanted for their wedding. The wedding – ugh. She wanted to marry Edward. There was no doubt about that, but the idea of having a wedding was stressing her out. Thinking about a wedding had made it very clear to her that she and Edward had very different upbringings. His family expected an event. Bella wanted a simple ceremony. Alice had not so subtly been suggesting venues for the wedding and reception along with lots of things that cost lots and lots of money. Bella was terrified to tell her or Edward that she pictured them getting married in front of close friends and family at their park and having the reception at the restaurant.
The tension over the wedding had been growing. Bella had yet to set a date or pick a place. Edward thought she was reluctant or had cold feet. In truth, she was worried that he would go along with whatever she wanted, even if it wasn't what he wanted. He might want the big event Alice had in mind, but he would never admit it to Bella if he knew her desires. Bella feared that one of them was going to be unhappy with the details of the wedding, and she didn't want to do anything to make her Edward unhappy. So she stalled and put things off and avoided. She'd been good at it, but she knew she couldn't keep it up much longer. Edward had specifically asked her to put some of her ideas down on paper by this afternoon.
By four-thirty, Bella had written Bella Cullen so many times, that she figured she pretty much had her new signature solidified. She went downstairs to wait for Edward to swing by and get her.
"Picolla, where are you off to?" granddad asked when he saw her waiting by the back door.
"Edward's picking me up to talk about our wedding."
"Ahh yes, I can't wait to see my little one in a wedding dress. Have you decided on a date yet?"
"Not yet, granddad. I'm sure we'll discuss that more today."
"Don't wait too long. You never know how long you'll have to enjoy life with the one you love. Make the most of the days you have."
"I know granddad," Bella sighed. She was lucky to have found someone that loved her as much as her granddad had loved her granny.
Bella saw Edward pull up, and kissed her granddad goodbye. She ran out to the car, just as Edward got out to open her door. He was dressed in Khakis and a navy turtle neck sweater. He was perfection. Bella wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him quickly before getting in the car.
"How was your day?" Bella asked reaching over and trying futilely to tame his wild hair.
"Long. I have to do more and more of the leg work since we got these new big accounts. I just decided today that I'm going to hire a couple of new engineers. It's a hassle finding the right people, but I don't like spending so much of my time away from my fiancé. I've spent years working too many hours to get my business to a point where I could delegate more and work less. I'm not giving that up now."
"Sounds good to me," Bella wound her arm through his.
"Where do you want to go anyway?" Edward asked.
"Can we just hang out at the house? We've barely spent any time there since you moved in last month."
"I guess, but the workers will still be there working on the third story and your office." Edward had convinced Bella that they needed a state of the art home theater in the house he bought for them to share. In turn, he promised her an office/library/writing suite with wall to wall built in shelves and books to fill them all.
"That's fine. We can just hang out in the living room or in the bedroom," Bella winked at him.
"Bella," Edward rolled his eyes. "It's not nice to tease. I'd wait an eternity to be with you, but it makes it harder when you tease."
"I know," Bella sighed. "It's just that Emmett said…"
"Emmett said that we should wait as long as possible so we can grow closer emotionally because once we get physical that will take over the relationship," Edward interrupted. "I know Emmett is definitely the authority on emotional maturity."
"I thought it was good advice," Bella argued. "Anyway, once I give it up, you'll probably tire of me. I've got to have something to keep you interested."
"Nothing could make me lose interest in you. You're everything." By then they were sitting in the driveway of the house. Edward was looking at Bella with such intensity that it made her want to rip her clothes off and jump him right there. Bella swallowed hard and got out of the car feeling slightly dizzy. The truth was she was a little afraid of moving forward in their physical relationship. Edward was experienced, and she wasn't. What if she disappointed him? What if she couldn't measure up to his past experiences?
They went inside, and Edward went upstairs to check on the progress the workmen had made on his baby. Bella went to the kitchen to make them some popcorn and get them some sodas. They met in the living room a few minutes later and settled down on the couch. "So did you get your list made?" Edward asked. Bella purposely took a huge handful of popcorn and stuck it in her mouth so she couldn't talk.
Edward waited patiently until she swallowed. "So did you?" he asked.
"Isn't Star Trek on TV or something?" Bella reached for the remote control. Edward was quicker, grabbed it, and reached to put it on the end table behind him.
"I had a feeling you wouldn't, so I brought my notebook for us to work on it together."
"Great," Bella mumbled.
"I think I know what the problem is," Edward took one of Bella's hands in both of his and made circles on it with his thumbs.
"You do?" Bella asked suspiciously.
"I think you're worried about getting married when there are still so many things you haven't done. I was thinking about making a compromise?"
"What sort of a compromise?"
"How about if we make a list of all things we want to do before we get married and make plans to do them?"
"You mean like sleep around with a lot of people?" Bella was having trouble making sense of what exactly Edward was proposing.
"Is that something you feel like you missed out on?" Edward asked with a disgusted look on his face.
"No! I just… what are you talking about?"
"You told me you'd never been camping or to a Broncos game because you were too sick. Geeze Bella – you have a dirty mind."
"Oh, that's what I thought you meant," Bella giggled in embarrassment.
"Anyway," Edward rolled his eyes at her. "If I promise to give you the chance to do the things you want to do before we get married, do you think we could maybe at least set a date? It doesn't have to be soon, I'm just anxious to know when."
"Sure," Bella shrugged.
"Really? Why was that so easy?" Edward thought aloud.
Bella loved that Edward was so impatient to marry her, and his idea was really cute and thoughtful even if it was misguided.
"Okay, so do you want those two things on the list?" Edward asked.
"Yeah, and do you think there is anyway John Elway could come back and play for that one game? I always wanted to see him play."
"As much as I want to fulfill your every fantasy, I think you're living in a dream world, dear."
"I figured that one was a bit much."
"Okay, so we've got camping, Broncos game, and I'm still planning on us chaperoning a prom next month."
"Alice and Rosalie will love the chance to dress me for that," Bella rolled her eyes. Edward looked saddened by her reaction. "But I'm really excited about the idea of having that experience. That is completely sweet and romantic of you to plan that for me."
Edward smiled. "What else should we put on this list?"
"I've never been to a concert."
"Got it. What about getting drunk? Maybe if I get you drunk, you'll finally let me give you another experience you'll never forget."
"You have a one track mind," Bella sighed. "Fine, you can put both of those down."
Edward looked giddy as he added numbers five and six to the list.
"Ooooooh, I always wanted to go toilet papering!"
"You're probably going to get us arrested, sweetie." Edward wrote it down on the list.
"I don't think I ever made prank phone calls either," Bella was trying hard to think of all the fun things normal people with living mothers and working hearts did when they were young.
"I remember you mentioning slumber parties. I know we've had a bunch of them, but somehow I think your idea involved more nail polish and gossip."
"I'm totally inviting Emmett." Alice had single-handedly turned Bella's brother into a girl.
"I know we can do this after we're married, and it's not exactly a rite of passage, but I've always wanted to see Les Mis performed on stage. It's my all time favorite story, but I've somehow missed it every time the show came through Denver."
"It's going on the list." Edward leaned over and kissed her eliciting a sigh. The last time Bella checked, it wasn't on Broadway anymore and was only showing in London. Edward didn't need to know that though.
"I think that's a pretty good list," Bella said leaning against Edward and reading it over again.
"Okay, so do you think that after you've done all these things you'll be ready to marry me?" Edward asked.
"That's really not the reason I've been avoiding setting a date at all, but I do like the idea, so fine."
Edward looked at her sideways with an exasperated expression. He took a deep breath like he was trying not to lose his temper. "For the love, can you please just tell me what it is then?"
Bella bit her lip and tried to think of a diplomatic way to explain her hesitancy. They had both learned the importance of being open about their feelings with each other, and she knew they could talk about this reasonably. "You wouldn't understand."
"Try me," Edward said flatly.
"You don't want to marry me, because I have money? I think it's a little late to be bringing this up. At least I can assure my mom you're not a gold digger," Edward mumbled in frustration.
"No, I want to marry you," Bella assured him.
"So you want me to be poor first? I guess that's entirely feasible with the way the market is right now…"
"No, no I'm mostly glad you have money. I'm just… I'm worried that you are going to want a rich people wedding, and, well, that's not what I want at all. I want something simple. I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed in what I want."
Edward stared at Bella with a blank expression on his face for what felt like several minutes. "What in the world is a rich people wedding?"
"You know, one at a fancy hotel with lots of people and lots of decorations and a band and caterers and where they serve an amuse-bouche and where everyone dances."
"What's an amuse-bouche?" Edward asked.
"I don't know. I think it's some sort of fancy little appetizer for rich people. They make them on Top Chef."
"Bella, I know Alice is going to be horrified, but I was kind of hoping we could have an outdoor wedding at the park – something intimate."
Now it was Bella's turn to stare at him with a blank expression.
"What?" Edward asked defensively. "I'll do whatever you want. That's just what I've been picturing in my mind."
"I guess, if that's what you really want….." Bella shrugged.
"It's your day Bella. I want to do what you want. That was just an idea."
"It's perfect!" Bella lunged at him, hugged him, and planted kisses all over his face. "I was so worried you would want to have a huge event meant to impress tons of fancy rich people. That's why I've been avoiding planning it. I didn't want to disappoint you by wanting something different."
"Silly Bella, I already had one of those fancy rich people weddings. It was so tiring, that I barely even got a chance to enjoy it. That's not us. We need a day that showcases our love and not our bank account."
"You're amazing!" Bella gushed.
"Okay, let's set a date." Bella ran and grabbed the calendar off the refrigerator. "It will have to be when it is warm enough outside, so that means between June and September. I really don't want to wait fifteen months, so that means we only have three to six months left to plan. I'm going to start teaching full-time in late August, and we want time for a honeymoon first. Alice is going to kill us. We agree on simple though, so it won't be that hard to plan something simple will it? Oooh I can't wait to register. I've always wanted to register."
"Whoa, and here I thought you weren't excited to get married!" Edward laughed.
"Oh, I'm so excited," Bella bounced. "How about late June?"
A/N: I thought we should ease ourselves slowly into the drama. I've been trying to think of a funny if yo don't review threat - but all my ideas are dumb - Alice going postal - a workman falling through the ceiling and killing Edward, Bella choking on popcorn. I've got nothing. Can you please just review anyway, because it makes me happy :)