Thanks to emilydmamaof3 for beta-ing this for me at the last minute. For the record...she did try to talk me out of ending this chapter where I did. LOL

Everything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

It was hard to believe that two whole months had passed since the blow out at my parents' house. I was so fucking desperate and scared when I walked in there. Considering my brother had always been basically a stranger to me, I had no idea what he was capable of once backed into a corner. I was unsure if he'd hurt her, uncertain of where he may have taken her. I just needed to know that Bella was safe and okay. Of one thing I became absolutely positive the moment I saw her beautiful face in my parent's kitchen; I would never let anyone or anything stand between Bella and I ever again. Only if, of course, she wished to have me.

My mom took it much better than I thought, Bella and I ...being...whatever it was that we were to one another. She was visibly upset, I could see it. Feeling as if she'd had a hand in the entire fiasco from the start and learning that it was me who had been in love with Bella for so long. I even noticed the semblance of a smile on her lips as I embraced the woman of my dreams right there in her kitchen. Normally, I'd never have done something so bold, so "in your face", but I was just fucking relieved to have found her. On the way out of the house, my mother squeezed me tightly and kissed my forehead. That must be when she stuck something in the pocket of my jacket. I found it when I had reached for Bella's keys; a note written in red marker on a post-it note. It said "I'm sorry. We'll talk."

My father, on the other hand, had no idea how to react. It was obvious. He was furious with Emmett, but said very little to me. He had that disappointed look about him, the one I'd learned to try and avoid as a child. But I wasn't sure if it was inspired by Emmett's behavior...or mine. I'm sure it would have been easier for all of them if Emmett and Bella were just splitting up, clean and easy. But with me involved, it made things messy, uncomfortable. I'm sure my father was devastated by the realization that his boys would now never have a close relationship like he and my Uncle James had. Over time, he and my mother had grown to feel like parents to Bella. And, as much as I'm sure it pleased my mother to keep Bella in her life, I was sure a future filled with uncomfortable family holidays had more than crossed her mind.

I still hadn't talked to my mom in response to her note. I just needed some time and distance between the craziness of it all. Maybe I was punishing her a little, in my own way, for meddling all those years ago. But I also wanted to be there for Bella...completely. She was the one experiencing loss. I couldn't imagine what she must have been feeling. Having never been close to her own family, she had adopted mine and they loved her back ten-fold. I couldn't know what it was like to lose something I never felt I'd had and my family and I had always been somewhat strangers. Besides, Bella was all I'd ever really wanted for as far back as I could remember and I planned to cherish each moment we had for however long it may be.

When I woke that morning, Bella was already up and out of the house. She left me a note that she had met Alice for coffee. She'd been spending more time with her cousin since the break-up, and I found myself hanging out with Whitlost more than I normally may have. Not that I minded. That guy, for all the nonsense he spoke, seemed to have a keen eye for the answers to all of life's problems. He was a wiser and deeper human being than you might suspect at first glance.

I took my time getting out of bed. Bella and I were still sharing the double bed in the guest room. She seemed in no hurry to return to the room she had shared with Emmett, although she had insisted we go out and buy a new mattress set for it. I went with her, store to store, holding her hand as she'd press her palms on each mattress and tried out a few. The ones she really liked, she'd insisted I try them out, too. Perhaps that was a good sign of many nights together to come, I'd hoped. Although we were sharing a bed already, it was completely platonic other than her head on my shoulder as I held her while she fell asleep. A few times she would wake up crying after a nightmare and I'd soothe her, rubbing her back and shoulders until she drifted back off again. But that's as far as things went. The mattress had been delivered a week ago and we were still residing in the guest room. A sign to me that she was not yet ready to move on; not mentally ready to jump into another relationship. It was too soon. And I actually appreciated the fact that she wanted me around even though it wasn't physically romantic yet. Maybe that meant I was more than just her rebound guy. Other than mattress shopping, Emmett's name had not come up since we left him at my parent's house. It was like she was trying to block it all out. Except for the large yellow envelope on the kitchen counter. From my father's attorney. It had remained unopened and untouched since the day I brought it in from the box several weeks ago. I secretly had hoped she'd have ripped it open, signing it immediately, happy to be rid of my asshole brother. But, apparently, there was more to it than that. I wasn't surprised. I was certain Bella would never have entered a marriage with my brother had she not loved him and planned to fulfill that oath she'd made before God. And, of course, she would be feeling loss, failure. It was only natural. At least, that's what I told myself.

I moved from the bed to the shower, washing away the empty feeling I felt when that was how I found Bella's side of the bed. The note on her pillow was short, but thoughtful.

"Edward,

Meeting Alice for coffee. Call me if you'd like me to bring you back anything. I won't be too long.

Kisses,

Bella"

Kisses. From Bella. How I longed for those. Her soft lips. Warm against mine. My fingers wrapped in her hair. The hot slickness of her tongue caressing mine.

Dammit my hard-on. I swore if I didn't get release soon the damn thing would fall off...or leave me in revolt...just pack a bag and head out.

I leaned my head against the cool tiles, my soapy fingers slowly descending until they landed where I needed touch most. My mind raced with thoughts of her. The sounds she made as she slept. How my name sounded leaving her lips. The dip of her lower back. The soft curve of her hip. The puckering of her breast pressing through the thin fabric of her nightclothes on a cool evening. The memory of her face, her eyes, her sounds as she led herself to climax ...enticing my own personal pleasure.

For the first time in two months, I let everything go. I stopped trying to make my every move the right one. I stopped ....fucking ...thinking. I only felt...felt the pleasure of her touch mirrored through my own. Felt my satisfaction come to a head...felt the ecstasy that came with freeing the long overdue built up tension I'd been harboring as I brought myself to blissful release right there...alone...standing... my head against the wall... in the shower.

What should have left me feeling sated and contented and relaxed...only proved to make me feel even more lonely ...disappointed ...and even a bit pathetic.

I wrapped a white towel from the bathroom rack around my hips, water droplets still clinging to my shoulders. Dropping down to sit at the edge of the bed, my elbows on my knees, I raked my fingers through my wet hair. I felt as though a turning point was due. Maybe Bella was waiting for me to initiate furthering our intimacy. I wasn't thinking sex, although that would be...well...unbelievable. I just needed to get an idea of what we were now...now that we'd sort of relaxed into a comfortable routine that somewhat resembled...roommates.

Looking up from my lap, I saw the phone on the bedside stand. That's when I realized there was something I had been avoiding. I reached for the handset and dialed my childhood number. Mom answered on the second ring.

"Edward! I was just thinking of you. I'm so glad you've called." she said.

"I'm sorry it's taken so long."

"Don't apologize to me, Edward...please. I completely understand why you may not want to talk to me."

"It's not that, Mom. It could never be that. I just didn't know what to say."

"Then, don't. Let me...please. I am SO very sorry for...for everything. "

"Mom..." I tried to interrupt.

"Edward, let me finish. I should never have over-looked you back then. Thinking back now, I should have known right away that it was you who was responsible for such selfless, romantic signs of affection. You had always been my thoughtful boy...even as a young child. You may not remember, but you once invited me to the basement for a date. You had set up a dusty old card table and chairs, covering it with my good lace table cloth." My mother laughed before finishing. "Dixie cups held lemonade that made my cheeks pucker and paper plates held tiny peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you'd prepared on saltines. You had even gathered a bundle of cherry blossoms from the back yard and put them in an old mayonnaise jar in the center of the table. Do you remember that?"

I didn't. But I said I did.

"Then, when you had gotten older, you withdrew and became so quiet. You even came to dinner with your headphones on...music blaring. I thought you were blocking us out; pushing us away. I thought I didn't know you anymore. But I should have realized you were probably insecure and confused about growing up. I should have tried talking to you, helped you transition more easily into adulthood...or encouraged your father to speak to you. But instead, I thought if I gave you space it would all work itself out. Turns out, you hadn't changed at all; still sensitive and reserved. It was only my perception of you that had changed. You were the same person. you'd always been...even if you preferred to stay in your room and didn't speak up. I should have known that."

I didn't know what to say. The line remained quiet for awhile. Then, my mother said "You love her, don't you?"

"Yes." I didn't even have to think about the answer.

"She's a good girl, like a daughter to me. I want to see her happy...she deserves a good life. Be patient with her Edward, she's going through an ordeal."

"Does that mean you're okay with...me...and...Bel...?"

"Edward Cullen! I will certainly not be the one to stand between the two of you again! If you two are in love and are meant to be together, then it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks, does it?"

"No." I said softly. "It doesn't"

"But, in case you need it...for whatever reason, I want the very best for both of you, together or apart."

"Thanks, Mom.

My head still damp, I threw on a pair of jeans and jogged downstairs to the kitchen. I grabbed the orange juice from the fridge and reached into the cabinet above the counter for a glass. Staring at me from the center of the counter, obviously removed from the spot it had kept for over a month, sat the large yellow envelope addressed to Mrs. Isabella Swan Cullen. I stared at it, wondering for what reason it had been moved, and noticed it sat less than flat on the counter. Lifting the corner, I saw it had been opened, a thick fold of papers sticking out a bit from inside.

I stood, juice in one hand...glass in the other ...staring at the envelope. I wondered if that was what had prompted Bella to leave...to seek the comfort of her cousin. I imagined her staring wide-eyed at my brother's demands, tears stinging her eyes. What would he ask for? The house? The large screen television? Their bed? Their savings? He deserved nothing, although I was sure Bella wouldn't want anything that served as a reminder of her pain.

I wanted so much to know what was in that envelope. To read the documents put together by one of the finest attorneys in Washington; one Emmett could never afford on his own. One my father had on retainer. It angered me a bit that my father must have supported Emmett.

I traced the corner of the envelope with my finger, as if by touch I could somehow know what was inside. I wouldn't look inside. I couldn't. It was none of my business unless Bella wanted me to know.

I heard Bella's key turn in the front door and hurried to the table, away from the envelope, to pour my juice.

I listened as she dropped her bag on the table by the door and turned the deadbolt; a habit I'd noticed she'd picked up since Emmett had left. I wondered if she didn't feel as safe with just me or if she was locking it for privacy form someone who might just barge in. I heard her footsteps coming closer and I sat at the table to drink my juice.

"Hi." She said, smiling and handing me a large Starbucks cup. "We were out of coffee. I figured you might need this."

"Thanks." I stood to receive the cup and pressed a kiss to her temple. "Sleep well?" I asked. I knew she hadn't. I had felt her tossing and turning all night.

"No, actually. I didn't. But I'm hoping I will tonight for the first time in a while." She smiled, big and beautiful. It had been too long since I'd seen that smile.

"That's fantastic. I'm curious though. What has brought on this new outlook?"

I guess I just needed to put things into perspective."

"Alice help with that?" I asked. Her cousin had a way of saying exactly what needed to be said without pulling any punches or softening any blows.

"A little. She called this morning and convinced me that I needed to stop prolonging my own agony. Then she insisted we meet for coffee to celebrate."

"Celebrate?" I asked.

She nodded toward the yellow envelope on the counter. The one that, before today, had remained unopened. She was smiling, big and beautiful. It had been so long since I'd seen her smile like that. My heart raced.

"Did you look?" she asked, eyebrows raised.

"No." I said defensively. I'd wanted to SO fucking bad. But I didn't.

She traced her fingers along my shoulders as she walked around my chair to retrieve the envelope. I hardened instantly at her touch. I don't think she'd meant it seductively, just a need for the physical contact.

She handed it to me and smiled a big toothy grin, like she'd just won the lottery or gotten a promotion or something.

I pulled out the thick fold of paperwork and began reading at the beginning. Bella stood before me fidgeting, rocking from foot to foot. I looked at her from above the paperwork and raised my eyebrows in question.

"Are you going to read the whole thing?" she asked.

"Do you not want me to read it?"

"No. I mean, I don't care. But look at the last page...the bottom of the last page." Her fingers dug at the stack of papers in my hand until I was looking at her signature at the bottom of the last page.

She'd signed them.

She'd signed them!

I looked into her eyes sparkling with pride. "I faxed them over this morning."

And then, my stomach sank.

"Bella, did you have anyone look these papers over before you signed them?"

"I didn't have to."

"Bella. My father's attorney is the best. You need to be sure that things are done fairly." Fair being Emmett's ass on a stick!

"Oh, things were not done fairly at all, but if it's what Emmett wants..."

"What?!"

Bella giggled, her joy overflowing. "Edward, he left me everything. All contents of the house, everything. All he asked for was enough of our savings to set him up in an apartment. He's not fighting me. He's walking away."

That's when a flash if guilt hit me. My father was always a fair man, and I was sure he had indeed influenced Emmett decisions.

Bella threw her arms around my neck and I pulled her to me. I wasn't sure what all of this meant to her...to us, until I felt Bella drag her fingertips lazily along my neck and shoulders. I looked into her eyes, only to find them looking back at me as she leaned d toward me. Our lips met and I actually got fucking butterflies in my stomach. God! I'd waited so long for this!

We stood there in the kitchen, just kissing for a really long time. I pulled back to look at Bella, her lips beautifully red and swollen and she smiled. Not big and toothy like before. She smiled seductively, taking her bottom lip between her teeth, making me want to do really naughty things to her.

"Umm, Bella, if you keep standing there like that..."

She reached for my hand and led me out of the kitchen to the stairs.

I wrinkled my forehead at her, not wanting to get my hopes up too much. She smirked again, her eyes darting to the tops of the stairs.

"Are you sure?" I asked

She answered me by pulling her blouse over her head without even unbuttoning it. Oh my God!

"Bella, just because you signed the papers, doesn't mean..."

One flick of her wrist and her bra had dropped to the stairs. Christ!

"Not that I'm against this or anything..."

She stepped out of her jeans, pulling me further up the stairs in nothing but a thong, leaving them there in a pile. Sweet Mother!

I didn't say another word. I just followed. at that moment, I'd have followed her fucking anywhere...off a bridge...into a volcano.

But instead she led me to the master bedroom...to the new bed we'd picked out together. She climbed onto the mattress and met me on her knees, her arms wrapped around my middle, her lips on my chest.

I expected to wake up at any moment, hard and frustrated.

But I didn't.

It was really fucking happening,.

I placed my fingers under her chin, raising her lips toward mine. I kissed her hard, years worth of passion all balled up in that one kiss. I kissed her like a man freed from a prison he thought he'd been sentenced to for life. I kissed her like a man in desperate need of this woman. I kissed her...like a fool in love.

And she kissed me back, full of passion and longing and...maybe love, too.

Her hands moved to my waist and the layers of clothing I had there. I watched as she fiddled with the button, eased down my zipper, lowered my jeans, my shorts. My breaths grew rapid, anxious...awaiting her touch. Her soft gentle fingers caressed my shaft from tip to base. A noise from somewhere deep inside escaped my lips, something between a moan and a gasp. She looked up at me, her eyes filled with passion and need. I leaned into her neck, kissing and nibbling and panting; her touch bringing me far more pleasure than I could have ever imagined. Slowly, I allowed my fingers to trail down her shoulder to her breast. I rubbed her taut nipples with my palm, completely appreciating their arousal. I dipped my head to allow my tongue to toy with one of her tender peaks as my hand continued to slowly forge a trail south. My thumb outlined her navel, caressed her hip before seeking out the soft curls I knew to be awaiting my touch below. I fingered circles through them before drifting my thumb lower, feeling her breath on my shoulder as she gasped in response to my touch. Her arousal was evident as I easily slid my thumb around her clit before slowly gliding it across her center. Her hips jerked on impulse and I found myself leaning into her, guiding her backward onto the bed.

I gazed at the beauty before me, the girl of my dreams, her hair spiraled out on the crisp new spread. Smiling at me. Wanting me.

I would love this girl forever and forever.

And I would begin by making love to her on this day...thoroughly.

I know---throw rocks...tomatoes. I deserve it! I'm such a dirty cock blocker!! But I wanted to share some of Edwards happiness and triumph, yet leave the heart of the lemon to Bella. I figured What he was feeling from EPOV was not nearly as important as learning HOW he felt from BPOV. So, I am leaving you something to look forward to...the last regular chapter of Open Door Policy is up next. It will be followed by the Epilogue. I haven't decided which POV to do it in yet---perhaps both. Anyone have a problem with an Epi from each??

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