It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This

A/N: This was originally written for the Epic T One-Shot Contest sponsored by Bronzehairedgirl620 in memory of Daddy's Little Cannibal. The only specifications were to include the words 'fireman' and 'cannibal' in a T-rated one-shot. I have since continued the story beyond the contest one-shot:)

Twilight and its associated characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.

7:58…

7:59…

8:00!

Edward Masen counted down the time on his wristwatch. It had been a hectic night shift in the emergency room where he was doing his residency. His uncle and Emergency Chief of Staff of Seattle General, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, had made him promise to work two weeks of night shifts in order to accommodate the time off that he requested for his honeymoon.

Just thinking of his honeymoon brought a goofy grin to his face as he strode from the employee locker room and tried to get to the large automatic double doors before another intern or nurse could stop him.

"Dr. Masen!"

Edward grimaced; he hadn't been fast enough. He tried to school his features into an indifferent look, and turned to face his uncle. Carlisle was smirking at him with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes?" Edward prompted the older man.

"Well, I was going to ask you to take a look at the fireman in exam six once more before you leave, but I won't hold you." The smirk on Carlisle's face deepened. "And, Esme wanted me to invite you and Bella over for dinner tonight; your cousins will be there with their wives, but I'm guessing you have plans?"

Edward wanted nothing more than to go home and curl into bed with Bella and sleep until sunset, but he knew that his Aunt Esme would be disappointed if he and Bella didn't come. She had been using Carlisle to encourage him and Bella to come over and tell them all about their newly-wedded bliss. Considering Esme had leant them her private island for their honeymoon, he felt it would be rude to decline another invitation. "Sure…actually, that sounds good. What time?"

"How's six o'clock? Give you plenty of time to get some…sleep…and get dinner before your next shift," Carlisle said with a grin as Edward's face turned red at his uncle's insinuation. It was rare for his uncle to tease in such a manner, but, Edward supposed that his cousin Emmett must have gotten his playfulness from somewhere.

"Sounds great…I guess we'll see you in…nine hours, and forty-eight minutes? Should we bring anything?" Edward asked as he yawned and rubbed his face blearily.

"Just yourself and your beautiful bride, Edward," chuckled Carlisle; then he waved at Edward and strode back into the emergency room to start his shift. Edward quickly turned to escape before Carlisle changed his mind.

Edward pulled out his cell phone as he walked to his car so that he could call Bella; he figured he ought to let her know that he was headed home. If he were honest with himself, he just wanted to hear her voice.

"Hello?" Bella's voice sounded groggy. Edward cringed; he hadn't meant to wake her. Usually she was up rather early.

"I'm sorry, hon…I didn't think you'd be asleep still…" he apologized.

"S'ok…wow…I can't believe I was still asleep! I really don't sleep well when you're on nights Edward," Bella yawned audibly as she said it. "To what do I owe the honor of hearing your voice this morning?"

"Well, I thought that I'd let you know that I was headed home…I'm sorry you didn't sleep well, Love. You're more than welcome to curl up with me for a couple more hours…it is Saturday…and I miss sleeping with you too when I'm on nights."

"Hmm…sleeping with me, huh?" Bella murmured. Edward could imagine the raised eyebrow and smug grin that went with the playful tone in his wife's voice.

"You know full well what I meant you minx," Edward replied, just as playfully. "Though if you interpreted things differently…"

"Just get home safe, and we'll snuggle," Bella promised, laughing at the eagerness that suddenly colored Edward's tone.

"I can't wait," he said. "I'm getting in the car."

"Love you, bye," Bella responded.

"See you soon; love you, bye," Edward repeated just as he finished unlocking his car door. He paused, imagining Bella all warm and curled up in their bed waiting for him when he heard a soft snort. Edward glanced over the roof of his car and noticed one of his co-workers was getting into the vehicle parked next to his.

Mike Newton was a third-year med student who had a bit of hero worship for Edward, as a second year resident. More annoyingly, Mike had a little bit of a crush on Bella; he was never without some sort of unintentional double entendre. The oaf always seemed to run his mouth without thinking about what he was saying.

Edward had once thought the same of Emmett, who was often playfully blunt and intrinsically honest, paired with a razor-sharp wit. But Edward had come to realize over the years that while Emmett spoke his mind, there was intention and thought behind his innuendo. Not so with Mike Newton. The guy just rubbed Edward the wrong way, even though he was unfailingly chipper most of the time. Bella insisted it was Edward's inner cave-man awakening at the thought of competition; then she insisted there was none. Either way, Newton was still annoying.

"Talkin to your home girl?" Mike smirked.

"If by home girl, you mean wife, then yes, I was in fact speaking with her," Edward said, emphasizing the fact that Bella was now his wife.

"It's cool dude… I figured you were talking to the 'ball and chain' since you had such a whipped look on your face," Mike giggled, complete with air quotes. Edward blinked slowly at the snickering imbecile across from him, and then he recalled the image of Bella snuggled into their bed. There was no stopping the exultant grin that spread across Edward's face.

"That's exactly why I'm the married one, and you're still living in your parent's basement," Edward said smoothly. He laughed at Mike's confused expression and jumped into his car, driving away before he had to explain the finer points to Newton.

Twenty minutes later, he was tiredly climbing the stairs towards his and Bella's bedroom in their modest townhouse. When he opened the door, he smiled at the sight of Bella curled-up and reading her dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights. Again. Of course, she had recently obliterated her copy of Pride and Prejudice with so many repeated readings, so Edward supposed she had to read something, no matter how much he teased her about how terrible the story was.

When Bella looked up at Edward, he smiled mischievously at her and crossed the room in three great strides. He took a flying leap onto the bed, knocking her book to the floor. Her squeal of indignation was cut off when he found her lips with his own and kissed her protests away.

"Good morning, Dr. Masen. I didn't realize that you were making house calls," she joked.

"Only for you, Mrs. Masen," he replied cheekily. "What can I help you with today?" he added with a wink and a brilliant smile.

"I drew the black-out curtains for you so that you could get some sleep, not some action," Bella said, laughing.

"Yes, that's the idea. I really am exhausted… I just thought you could use a little excitement before you laid down with me, since you just woke up." Edward tilted his head downward, and then he looked up through his lashes, trying to convince her to snuggle with him, rather than get up for the day.

"Cheater…you know I can't resist that look. You needn't have tried so hard, love, I was hoping to join you and sleep for an hour or so. I meant it when I said I haven't slept well since you've been working nights. Three weeks of marriage and I'm already addicted to sleeping next to you," Bella said as she wrapped her arms around his chest and snuggled into him. Edward grinned at her and within moments, the both of them were lightly snoring.

Edward was awoken some time later to the sounds of cooking coming from the kitchen downstairs. At some point, he had sprawled across the bed on his stomach with his right arm and leg stretched onto Bella's side. It seemed as though he had gone looking for her warmth in his sleep. Again. She had accused him just three days into their marriage of being a big bed hog. He had just smirked and said, "But I'm your bed hog." Which Bella could not deny.

He stumbled groggily into the bathroom, cursing as he turned on the bright light over the vanity. Blinking to regain retinal function, he turned to the shower and cranked it on. The warm spray of water woke him more fully than any energy drink ever could. Edward was ready within thirty minutes to head downstairs to find his wife. Half-way down, he heard Bella laughing and talking quietly in the kitchen, though he couldn't hear any other voices. Edward quickly realized that she was probably on the phone. Bella wasn't prone to speaking aloud to herself unless she was asleep. Edward smirked as he remembered the hilarious things that she had said while asleep during their honeymoon. Then, he heard her start to speak again.

"Six is fine, Esme… No, he didn't tell me, but to be fair, he was asleep almost as soon as he walked into the house."

Oops… The dinner party. Edward winced, hoping that Bella hadn't already started her own plans for dinner.

"He was in the shower a few minutes ago, so I'll ask him when he comes down," Bella said, answering whatever question was asked on the other end. Edward looked guiltily down at his watch, wondering how far Bella was into her plans for their evening meal. Four o'clock… knowing Bella, she had probably already started preparing dinner. At the thought of food, his stomach grumbled loudly just as he walked into the kitchen. Bella's back was to him, though the sound gave him away.

"Speak of the devil and he shall come… He just walked into the kitchen, Esme, and he certainly sounds hungry…" she said without turning around.

Edward crossed the kitchen with a sly smirk; a plan forming as he approached his wife. He wrapped his arms around Bella and gathered her hair in his hands. Transferring the mass of brown to one hand, and bent his head to the back of her neck. He leisurely trailed the tip of his nose from the base of her neck to her nape. He followed the same path a few times, teasing her now and then with a slight brush of his lips. She trembled under his touch, and he laughed as she struggled to maintain her composure while still on the phone.

"Uh…um…Edward? Esme would like to know…if you could bring your crepe pan…she wants you to make crepes…for dessert tonight…how about that?" In her attempt to sound unaffected, Bella's voice was nearly a half-octave higher than normal by the time she finished speaking. Edward smirked at her discomposure- he was certain that she had suppressed a groan at some point during his teasing. He pulled the phone from her hand, and heard his aunt laughing as he pressed it to his ear.

"Bella? Tell Edward to stop pestering you and get his magic crepe hands over here…"

"Magic crepe hands? To think I spent all these years in med school when I could have just done culinary school instead…" he joked.

"Oh, Edward! Now that you're married, you can be just as bad as your cousin you know?" Esme said laughing.

"I'll take that as a compliment. Emmett has been telling me to lighten up for years…we'll be over in a bit," Edward chuckled back. Once he had hung up with his aunt, Edward turned to find Bella watching him with a raised eyebrow.

"Sorry, Carlisle only asked me as I was headed home this morning, and then I ran into Mr. 'D stands for diploma' Newton in the parking lot. How that guy ever made it into med school is beyond me…" Edward mused, thinking back on his encounter with the clueless oaf in the parking lot.

"Well, I guess it's a good thing that I was just planning on breakfast for dinner tonight; I hadn't really gotten any further than pulling the eggs out of the fridge and frying up some bacon. I was hoping to help you acclimate to your schedule a little better," Bella said shyly. Edward smiled at her sincere and sweet gesture.

"Whatever you cook is wonderful. Did you mention bacon? I haven't eaten anything since four this morning."

"I hope it was more than just vending machine garbage," Bella chided him.

"Well, I'll have you know it was a turkey sandwich, which just so happened to be from the cafeteria," Edward defended himself. "You can't expect a man to live on Cheetos alone."

Bella rolled her eyes before reaching into the cabinet and handing Edward his well-used crepe pan as he descended upon the plate of perfectly crisp bacon.

"Here…let's not forget this…Esme would be terribly disappointed to miss out on your delectable French cooking skills," Bella murmured just before she gave him a searing kiss.

"Oui…" Edward replied without opening his eyes, nuzzling his nose into Bella's and enjoying her closeness.

Dinner at the Cullen home was delicious as usual; Esme had prepared a fantastic spread with her daughters-in-law's help. Edward wowed everyone once again with his crepes filled with glazed strawberries and topped with whipped cream. He had felt Bella's gaze on him in the kitchen; she had sat at the breakfast nook and watched his skilled movements as he poured the batter and swirled the pan with a smooth, practiced hand. He was showing off just a little bit; he knew what watching him cook did to his wife. Before long his audience had grown to include his cousin's wives as well. Rosalie and Alice giggled and poked fun at their husbands' ineptitude in the culinary arts.

Edward pretended not to notice when Bella startled and flushed red after Emmett wandered in looking for his wife and swore that he was going to take up cooking lessons. Edward tried to hide his smirk; he'd had a feeling that his family hadn't missed the subtle flirtations between him and his wife.

After everyone was stuffed to bursting, Alice chirped, "So newlyweds, did you bring your pictures from your honeymoon?"

Bella blushed at the acknowledgment of her and Edward's honeymoon while they still sat around the dinner table. Edward spared her the embarrassment of his cousin's teasing. Alice may not take the mickey out of Bella for blushing, but Edward knew he had to cut Emmett off before he got into his stride. "I brought a DVD that I burned with all our pictures from the island. Jasper?" Edward turned to his cousin. "Did you get the wedding pictures onto a DVD as well?"

"Sure did…Alice would have killed me if it wasn't done by tonight," Jasper drawled softly, looking softly at his wife and smiling at her.

The eight of them picked up their dessert plates and moved to the media room of Carlisle and Esme's beautiful home. Edward and Jasper each loaded their discs into the changer and Edward procured the correct remote. All the ladies ooed and awed over the pictures of Edward and Bella's wedding ceremony and reception; the men stayed silent, other than Emmett's and Jasper's wolf-whistles when the pictures of Edward removing Bella's garter came up. Photo-Bella's face was crimson, and Photo-Edward's was a dusky pink, though he had a wicked grin on his lips. His hands were invisible beneath the antique white of Bella's skirt.

Bella's father could be seen in the background of the photo with his hands in his pockets. The expression on his face was the opposite of the bride and groom; utterly pale, and cringing at the scene before him. Carlisle laughed at the expression on Charlie Swan's face. Carlisle couldn't really relate, having raised three boys, but he imagined that there was a special bond between father and daughter that made it harder for a man to see his little girl getting married.

Esme sniffed discretely as the last few wedding photos slid across the screen. All the women, including Bella fought back tears at the sight of Edward and Bella after they had changed into their going-away clothes. They stood, their attention fixed solely on one another, at the head of an aisle of party-goers. All the guests held a lit sparkler high in their hands, creating an arched-tunnel of fiery light for Edward and Bella to run through. There was an incredibly palpable expression of love and desire radiating from their locked gaze. So tangible that everyone in the room turned to their spouse and shared a loving kiss. The slideshow came to an end with a picture of Edward's car, emblazoned with Just Married, as it pulled away into the night. Esme squinted at the image, moving closer as she tried to make out what was written in smaller text below the just married proclamation. Her eyes narrowed and she looked at Emmett's less-than-innocent face.

"Why does it say 'Go Forth and Multiply and Replenish the Earth?' on their car?" she asked. "If you were going to put a biblical message on their car, I can think of a few that are less suggestive!" Carlisle put his hand on Esme's shoulder and chuckled.

"It's done with now, shall we move on the next disc?" he said peaceably. To Emmett, he gave thumbs up behind his wife's head, for which he received an elbow to the ribs and an innocent smile from Esme.

Once they switched to the honeymoon photos, Bella blushed as the frequent pictures of her in a bathing suit popped up onto the screen, eliciting more wolf-whistles from the guys in the room.

"You're exquisite, Bella," Edward murmured in her ear. Not for the first time, he earnestly wished that they were watching this alone. Bella's pink-tinged neck was incredibly tempting, even in a roomful of their family. Sudden catcalls from Rose and Alice made Edward look up at the screen. It was a photo that he hadn't realized that Bella had taken. He was standing hip deep in the water, the top of his low-slung suit only just visible above the ocean. He was completely drenched from the wave he had just body-surfed nearly all the way to shore. His chest and hips faced the camera, which showed every drop and rivulet of water as it meandered its way down his body and back to the ocean. His face was in profile as he watched the waves coming from over his shoulder. How did I miss that? He wondered.

"Edward…looks like you actually do tan…" Rose teased appreciatively.

"Mhmm. All over," Bella said saucily. It was Edward's turn to flush red now. Bella smiled cheekily at him before she snuggled deeper into his side, a little pink herself. Edward was forced to pull his astonished gaze from Bella's though when Emmett snorted, "What the heck? Where did you take that picture?"

Edward turned to the screen and laughed. It was a picture that Bella had taken of him when they had gone on an afternoon sightseeing excursion to the mainland. As part of their jungle river cruise, they'd had the opportunity to visit a small native village. The people of the indigenous tribe were amazed at Edward's height; at 1.9 meters, he towered over everyone in the village. The children there were fascinated by the color of his hair; while already a unique color in the states, it was unheard of in the jungles of South America.

"What are those children doing to you?" Emmett wondered. In the photo, Edward sat on the ground, surrounded by eight partially-clad young children. Every one of them had a hand in his hair, and a bright smile on their face. Picture-Edward's eyes were closed, his face was scrunched up, and he had a huge open-mouthed grin on his face as he laughed in delight. Edward smiled in remembrance as Bella explained the photo.

"Oh, that's so sweet," Rosalie and Alice cooed together; Rosalie elbowed Emmett, who shrugged.

Emmett tilted his head to the side at the next picture. Edward smiled at his cousin's reaction; the medicine man of the tribe had wanted to take a clipping of Edward's hair to put on a talisman. The children from the previous photo were huddled in the background with their watchful mothers as the natively-dressed shaman used a rough-hewn knife to shear off a lock of hair.

"I hope you had a really good translator, because it looks like he's trying to prepare you for dinner there…" Emmett said with a shudder. Everyone else laughed.

"They weren't cannibals, Emmett," Edward reassured his cousin. "He was their medicine man…our guide explained that I was a doctor, so he wanted some of my unusual hair for some sort of talisman. Then he pulled out this old med kit from the Red Cross, and asked if I would look at all the children. They were all so charming and eager to see us. The littlest ones sat on their mother's laps and smiled shyly at me, even though I was a stranger with a stethoscope! With the help of our translator, the shaman told me about several medicinal plants that he used for his tribe. He could treat a good deal of illnesses, using just what they had in the jungle. They were all exceptionally healthy, so I think his techniques are working," Edward explained. He looked over at Carlisle and Esme; his uncle was smiling proudly, and his aunt was quietly laughing at Emmett's reactions to the other pictures from the village, including one of a topless woman breast-feeding her baby.

The rest of the slideshow was over quickly, and Edward and Bella were finally headed home so that Edward could get ready for his next shift at the hospital.

"You were so beautiful in those pictures, Bella." Edward insisted on the drive.

"You weren't so bad yourself, Edward," Bella responded.

"You know, before my Mom and Dad died, my father had this saying. He would look my mother in the eye, and he would say, Liz, it doesn't get much better than this. I could never figure out why he always said it. It didn't matter if they were laughing at each other on the side of the road while my dad tried to change a flat tire in the rain, or if they were waltzing in the kitchen while my mother had food cooking on the stove. It never made sense to me, because surely waltzing in the kitchen was better than being soaked on the roadside." Edward paused, mulling over his thoughts. "If there's one thing that being married to you has taught me, it's that everything is precious, something to be treasured. Whether it's making love to you, just sharing a bed for sleep, a quiet evening at home, or even a flat tire in the rain… nothing could be better than doing those things together. So, after all these years, I get it…" Edward trailed off.

"Edward?" Bella whispered.

"Yeah, hon?"

"It doesn't get much better than this."

A/N: So, I hope you all enjoyed this little epic T entry:)

My hubby, whom I have dubbed my own personal Edward, does in fact make delectable and authentic French Crepes. He spent two years in France, and luckily, he learned a thing or two in the kitchen ;) And yes, I love to watch him make his crepes ;)

And for all of my fellow Americans who were wondering, 1.9 meters is six foot, two and three-quarter inches :)