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Check out the A/N at the bottom for important info. Also there is a song for this chapter but I can't reveal it until the end, or it will give the whole chapter away. :) (And DON'T go scrolling down to the end now! :)
Bleary-eyed he looked up, holding his breath in anticipation. Bella stood there staring back at him, eyes red, tears dripping down her face, with his pages crinkled in her hand.
He couldn't read her expression, would she throw him out or invite him in?
At least she'd opened the door.
It was a start.
Neither of them moved. They stood there, staring at each other. Every nerve in Edward's body was twitching, as he struggled to keep still, waiting for Bella. Waiting for her to smile, or reach out, or . . . something, anything. But she stayed immobile, her falling tears the only sign of movement.
At least she was still looking at him. And he was going to hold onto that like a drowning man grasping a life preserver. He kept his eyes locked on hers as he slowly took a step forward.
Her eyes blinked in succession and her lip quivered.
He took another step and she finally moved, skittering backward like a scared kitten.
The hope in his heart died a little. But her eyes still held his.
He reached out tentatively, barely brushing her cheek with his fingers. Her eyelids closed and she took in a deep breath.
Edward took another step forward. She trembled, eyes still closed but she didn't step away from him. As he raised his other hand, reaching for her face she grasped his arm, stopping his movement in mid-air.
Edward was jittery as he walked into the empty diner, a million thoughts running through his head.
"Eddie! Hey how's . . . ." Emmett paused as he looked at Edward's face and then busted out with one of his booming full body laughs. Edward grimaced at him.
"Oh man, Eddie, you're lookin' a little green around the gills." He started another round of chuckling, unable to hold it in.
Edward pulled out his iPhone and typed, holding the phone out toward Emmett.
Thanks a lot, Em. The mechanical voice coming out of the iPhone's speaker delivered the words but not the sarcasm behind them. Emmett understood though, chortling some more as he pounded Edward on the shoulder.
Very quickly though, he sobered up and looked Edward in the eye, a warm smile on his face. "Edward, trust me, I know it's scary right now, but you have nothing to worry about. It's all gonna work out great." Emmett winked at him and tossed the keys toward Edward.
"Lock up when you leave," was the last thing he said as he walked out the door, leaving Edward alone.
Edward gulped and looked all around, then scrambled to make sure everything was in place and ready.
His mind wandered as he worked, the memories of he and Bella scrolling through his mind like a movie slideshow. It was hard to believe it had been two years since Bella's accident, two years since he stood in her apartment. That night . . . it felt like time had stopped as he tried to gauge whether she was going to forgive him or not. He remembered praying and pleading in his mind for her to believe him and he was scared to death of what he would do if she turned him away. His whole life hinged on that moment, her answer controlling everything—who he was going to be, what his life was going to be from that moment on.
Bella took her time. He had hurt her deeply and she couldn't just take him back so easily. She had walls up around her heart and he had to live with the fact that it was he who had put them there.
"Edward, don't." Her eyes were shiny and pleading as she stopped his hand from touching her. "I want . . . ." She swallowed around her words, trying to keep the emotion in. "But I need time. I know you were scared. But you broke us, Edward. And that hurt. I just can't go back like nothing happened."
Edward's heart sank like a stone and his arms fell to his sides as he bowed his head, his whole body shrinking.
"But maybe . . . we can start over?" His eyes snapped up to meet hers. He saw, under her glistening tears, a glimmer of hope staring back at him.
And so that is what they did. They started with a date—dinner and a movie, just like their very first date. Except this time there was no awkwardness, no communication problems. They already knew each other inside and out. Edward was nervous, though, afraid that Bella would change her mind at any moment. But she seemed committed to really putting the past behind them.
Still, at the end of the night, Edward got no further than the front door of Bella's apartment building. They shared a goodnight kiss, but she didn't invite him in, and Edward didn't push. He was a little disappointed but he knew he had to follow Bella's lead. He messed up and he deserved to pay whatever penance he had to.
They continued seeing each other, meeting up on campus for lunch, going out on dates. Bella came often to the diner to study while Edward worked. Goodnight kisses on the front steps grew longer and longer. Soon there were invitations for takeout and movie nights cuddling on the couch. Cuddling that became more and more heated. Many nights Edward found himself sent home, painfully aroused and aching for Bella, but he never quibbled. Everything was on Bella's terms, and he could wait, however long it took.
One night, Edward arrived to pick Bella up for dinner and he could hear her voice out in the hallway as he paused to open the door of her apartment. Inside, he saw she was on the phone, and from the conversation, she was arguing about something with Charlie. He started to head back out into the hallway, to give her some privacy, but she saw him and shook her head, grasping his arm to keep him from leaving.
"We've moved passed that Dad."
Edward could hear Charlie's angry tone shouting out through the phone, just not enough to decipher words.
Bella sighed. "But this is what I want!" She was pacing and she moved down the hallway toward her bedroom a bit, for some privacy. She lowered her voice, so it was barely audible where Edward was standing, but he still heard it.
"I still love him, Dad."
Edward stiffened. His joy at hearing her say those words was dampened by the fact that his being back in Bella's life was causing problems between her and her Charlie. She had just returned from a weekend trip home to see her father and obviously it hadn't gone well.
The sudden silence broke through his thoughts and he looked up to see Bella standing there still clutching her phone and staring off into space, her brow furrowed.
Edward waved his hands to get her attention. Bella, is everything okay?
She smiled sadly at him, then rolled her eyes. "Yeah, Charlie isn't taking the news very well that I'm seeing you again. We got in a huge argument when I told him, so I left." She gestured with the phone. "I was calling him, thinking maybe he might have cooled down after a good night's sleep and that maybe we could talk rationally. He really doesn't like you right now, and he thinks I've lost my mind." Bella chuckled but Edward didn't see the humor. In fact he understood Charlie completely. If someone had hurt his little girl, he wouldn't want that person back in her life either.
I don't blame him, I wouldn't like me much either.
Bella tilted her head and sighed. "Edward! Don't say that! And don't take his side!" She was smiling as she said it even though she was trying to look stern. " He just needs some time, I mean, I just told him. He didn't even know we'd been talking. He'll come around . . . eventually."
I don't know . . . are you sure? Are you sure you want me . . .
Bella came over and grabbed Edward's hands to stop their motions. "Don't! Don't even say it. I decide who I want in my life, he will have to deal with it." She leaned up and took his face in her hands, touching her lips softly to his. Edward couldn't help but smile, and Bella took advantage and deepened the kiss. Their lips moved together so perfectly, quickly igniting in heat. Edward pulled away to catch his breath.
I suppose we should get going. He could stay there, happy to hold and kiss Bella forever, but it was also frustrating, knowing they wouldn't be going any further. Still, he'd promised not to push her and he meant it.
"Actually, I don't want to go out tonight."
Edward frowned, confused. He'd given her an out during the Charlie conversation, but she said she wanted him to stay.
Bella bent her head and smiled shyly at him, her deep brown eyes looking up at him from under her lashes. She took his hand in hers and slowly started walking backward, toward her bedroom.
Edward let himself be pulled along, half of him in shock and the other half starting to heat up in anticipation.
Once they'd crossed the threshold of the bedroom, Bella reached up and wound her fingers in his hair, tugging his face down to hers. Their lips met, setting off sparks all over Edward's body as they caressed each other. Her lips parted and his tongue danced with hers, all wanton, wet heat.
She pushed her body against his and started fumbling with his coat. She had it half off his shoulders before he gathered his wits enough to break the connection of their bodies.
Wait . . . we shouldn't . . . I mean, we can wait. I don't want this to be some kind of revenge move just because you're angry with your father.
Bella froze, her lips parting. She was embarrassed by his words, that he would think that. It was just really bad timing, and her heart broke to think she had just ruined the moment she had been planning all day. Edward looked so subdued she needed to reassure him.
"Oh Edward, oh baby," she spoke softly with a sad smile. She pulled him with her so they were sitting on the bed facing each other, looking directly into each other's eyes. "I promise you this has nothing to do with my father's reaction, I would never, ever do that." She paused as she stroked his cheek tenderly.
"When I went back home, I made my usual visit to Jacob's memorial. It doesn't hurt so much anymore; in fact, it almost feels like a completely different lifetime. Thinking about him and me, about us together, reminded me that every relationship has its ups and downs. He and I may have had problems but we really did have some good times too. Both are a part of life, a part of loving someone. And it also made me remember that . . . ." She swallowed deeply before continuing. " Life is short. We should never take anything for granted and we should never waste a minute."
Bella moved, climbing onto Edwards lap, her thighs straddling his. She ran her hands through his hair, down his face, stroking his cheekbones, brushing his lips; her eyes followed her fingers, ending by looking into his eyes. "I miss you Edward, I miss being with you. I love you . . . I love you . . . ." Her voice, rough and soft, faded to a whisper, as she closed her eyes and smashed her lips to his hungrily.
Edward's whole body felt like it was bursting, with love, with joy. It was like an iron lock had just been broken open, releasing all the tension and energy in every cell and muscle in his body. She loved him. She wanted him.
He wrapped his hands around her back and wound his fingers into her hair, clutching her, pulling her into him. She twined her arms around his neck, cradling him to her.
Back and forth they pushed and pulled, sometimes slow and reverent and sometimes letting their passion lead. She lifted his shirt over his head and touched and caressed and scratched her nails on his chest, down his ribs and his stomach, causing his back to arch into her touch, craving more.
Bella worked her way back up and then pushed him backward, to the bed. She was leaning over him, their bodies not touching, a whisper of air between them. She paused, her face directly over his, her long brown hair cascading down around her, the tips of it brushing against his bare chest. They stared at each other, losing themselves in the depths of each other's eyes, drowning in the depths of their emotions. They both were taking in the moment and appreciating what it meant. Edward reached up and tucked some of Bella's hair behind her ear.
So beautiful, he signed.
She smiled and her love shone down on him, surrounded him like a warm blanket. He rubbed his hands lightly up and down her arms, feeling the silkiness of the fabric of her thin blouse under his hands. As divine as it felt, he needed to feel her, to feel her smooth skin in his. She shuddered and closed her eyes as his fingers brushed against her stomach, trying to work the buttons in and out to remove her shirt. After he did the first few, she sat up and he watched as she carefully finished unbuttoning her blouse and shook it off her shoulders, dropping it to the floor beside the bed. He continued gazing at her as she reached behind her back. With a quiet click, he watched her bra straps slide down her shoulders as she removed the bra and dropped it to the floor as well. He couldn't take his eyes from her; he hoped he'd never have to again.
He pulled her on top of him again, a little higher this time, just enough so that his mouth could reach her breast. She gasped and then moaned as his lips brushed ever so gently against her skin. She arched towards him as he opened his mouth again and enveloped her whole nipple in his hot mouth, kissing it and caressing it until she was shivering and mewling at the sensation. Then he shifted slightly to do the same to the other breast, while rubbing his hands up an down her sides, tracing the length of her spine, and then finally sliding both palms over her ass, pulling her even closer.
"Ed . . . ward, oh!" Her voice stuttered and she let out a long, low moan.
Smiling against her skin, he moved his hands to her waist and quickly flipped her so that she was spread out under him. He took her all in—her hair strewn out around her, her eyes half-closed, her lips still swollen and red from their kissing. Her eyes opened then, and she smiled lazily up at him. He wanted to always remember this moment, when she willingly and lovingly gave herself back to him. All he wanted to do was make her happy, make sure she never stopped looking at him that way.
He bent down and trailed light kisses across her stomach to the waist of her jeans. Slowly he unbuttoned and unzipped the denim as her muscles quivered and she squirmed under his touch. He quickly had them off of her and her panties as well.
"umm, hmm," she purred as she reached her hand toward him. "You too," she said as she waved her hand up and down, but making no sign of moving from her spot on the bed.
He grinned at her and started to reach for his zipper, before he paused to sign.
Impatient, are we?
"For you, always."
His cock was already hard and aching for her, and at her words, it throbbed and strained even more, making his task more difficult. He ripped his jeans and underwear off, quickly joining her back on the bed. He kneeled between her legs, spreading them and kissing gently up her thighs. Bella was gasping and clutching the bed sheets. She was wet already and he licked and lapped and worshipped her body as she bucked and moaned and grasped his hair in her fist. When she was panting and writhing and crying out his name he stopped and she whimpered. He was right on the edge with her; he was almost shaking with his need for her.
He stretched out over her, her skin shiny and flushed everywhere, her eyes dark and looking straight at him. He was panting and ready, but he needed a moment, a moment to believe that this was really happening—that he wasn't dreaming, that he and Bella were together again. He'd never believed he'd get this chance again.
Bella saw the emotion washing over his face and she opened her arms up to bring him closer to her. She reached for his face and got him to focus on her. "Oh baby, it's okay, I promise. Please . . . I need you, I want you so much, please . . . I love you." The last three words came out as a whisper as she wrapped her legs higher around him. He could feel her heat brush against his cock and he shivered again. He leaned his forehead against hers, squeezing his eyes shut.
He opened his eyes and gazed into hers. Her fingers traveled down his jaw, brushing his lips. Her breath ghosted against his face. He breathed her in and then with a shift of his body he was inside her, encompassed by her warmth. Bella gasped and arched and closed her eyes. She gripped his hair, she clutched his shoulders. Edward's whole body felt like it was an inferno, burning out of control.
Their passion drove them, grasping, pulling, touching, moving together desperately as one. Edward reveled in every breath, every cry, every moan, from Bella. He loved hearing her fall apart in his arms.
He felt her tremor under him and heard his name fall from her lips as she cried out. That was all it took for him to fall over the edge and collapse into her waiting arms. Where he stayed all night.
And where he planned to stay forever if everything worked out. Edward smiled as he remembered that night. It was one of the best nights of his life, all the details imprinted in his mind for eternity. All of the best nights of his life had been spent with Bella, and hopefully tonight would be another one of many, many more to come.
His phone buzzed and he glanced down.
On my way. C U Soon. B
Edward's heart flip-flopped and he jumped up to finish the preparations, a huge smile covering his face.
Bella found a parking spot across the street from the diner and got out, waiting for a car to pass before crossing. She smiled at the old familiar building. So many memories were wrapped up in this place. Her life changed that night that she walked into the diner, expecting to spend another horrible night alone avoiding her dreams and instead found herself looking up into Edward's eyes.
They hadn't been back here much since they'd both finished school, even though they still lived in Seattle. Edward had been extremely lucky in getting the job as the pianist for the Seattle Symphony, the former pianist deciding to retire the same year Edward graduated. And Bella, always planning to become a teacher, ended up getting into a new deaf school that had just opened up, her signing skills making her a top candidate. She loved working with the young children and always paid special attention to the new students or the ones who looked lonely or weren't as accepted by the other kids for one reason or another. She never forgot Edward's stories of growing up in a deaf school—even though he wasn't really deaf—and how the kids had treated him because of that. She couldn't go back in time and help Edward, but she could help another child from going through what Edward had.
They had tried to make a ritual of coming to the diner at least once a week, but life and schedules kept them busy. It had been a while since they'd been back to the old place. So she was intrigued to find out why Edward had asked her to meet him here tonight.
When she walked in, she was surprised to see the place deserted, not even Edward was anywhere in sight.
She frowned. "Edward? Emmett? Is anyone here?"
The kitchen door swung open and out walked Edward—dressed in a faded t-shirt and jeans, an old apron around his waist—very much like he'd looked when he used to work here.
She tilted her head and looked at him with a confused smile on her face. "Edward? What are you doing?"
He only smiled at her, and gestured her into her old booth.
He went back into the kitchen and returned with a cup of tea, and set it in front of her. Then he scribbled on his order pad and held it out for her to read.
Can I get you anything else?
Not sure how to respond or what he had up his sleeve, she didn't know how to answer. "Um . . . no?"
Edward sat down across from her and started scribbling again, before passing the pad back to her.
How was your day?
"It was okay, pretty easy today, actually. Um . . . Edward why aren't you signing?"
He shrugged his shoulders and avoided her question, asking another question about her students instead. He managed to engage her in a short conversation about work and other mundane everyday details.
Eventually Bella got tired of waiting to read Edward's notes. "Come on Edward, what's up? Why are we here, why are you writing and not signing, why are you serving me and wearing an apron? And why are there no other customers?"
He rolled his eyes at her. You're no fun, you know that?
"No fun?" Now it was her turn to roll her eyes and shake her head. "Edward . . . ."
Emmett let me have the place for the night. Do you know what today is?
She shook her head slowly.
It's the anniversary of the night I first saw you, sitting here in this very booth.
He was still writing and pushing his notes across the table to her. She blushed as she read his words.
I fell in love with you that very night.
You were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. But I was sure I'd never have a chance with you.
Someone like you wouldn't want someone like me.
But then you actually sat and talked with me, were patient with me. You took the time to get to know me.
And I couldn't believe I was so lucky that you liked me.
That you loved me.
I know things haven't always been perfect and I've made mistakes. But you forgave me and gave me another chance.
Bella was overwhelmed as she read all of his words.
You changed my life Bella, you've given me things I never thought I could have.
I love you so much, I will always love you.
Edward took a deep breath and scribbled four last words, one word per each small sheet of order pad paper. Hands shaking he passed them across the table, one by one.
Bella's hand rose to her mouth. Tears formed in her eyes. She stared at the four words, red ink scrawled across thin blue lines. Her heart was beating a mile a minute and she couldn't tear her eyes away from the paper in front of her. When she finally looked up, she saw Edward looking back at her. His eyes—those same beautiful green eyes she looked into that night—were full of love. As she registered the hesitant smile and the anxious look on his face, she realized belatedly that she hasn't answered him yet.
As if she would ever say no to this man.
"Yes, oh yes Edward! Of course I'll marry you!"
His whole face lit up like the fourth of July and he jumped up from the booth, pulling her into his arms. He lifted her off the ground and twirled her around, so incredibly excited and happy.
He stopped finally, lowering her feet to the ground, but not letting her out of his arms. He leaned his forehead against hers for a moment as they stared into each other's watery eyes.
She said yes.
She said yes.
He took one of her hands in his and slowly placed it over his beating heart so she could feel his love for her.
With his other hand he signed.
She smiled, unable to contain the happiness and light that filled her entire soul. Her soul, that had once been so dark and empty, had been healed by this incredible man she met by chance one extraordinary night in a diner.
"Forever," she whispered.
Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I've had long enough with you
Forget the world now we won't let them see
But there's one thing left to do
Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way
Today and every day
If I ever get the nerve to say "Hello" in this café
Say you will . . .
~ * B & E * ~
A/N: Okay, yep if you recognized the lyrics, the song for this chapter is Marry Me, by Train. I first heard this song months ago and KNEW it was such a perfect accompaniment for B & E and this chapter. * sigh * :)
Song and lyrics here: http:/www . youtube . com/watch?v=Ess2qlVHl6E
Also...this is the last chapter. However, there will be an epi. to come. I wasn't planning on one, but I've recently been...inspired. :)
So keep this on alert, we're not done yet!