Thanks to Robbie and Mac214 for their beta lovin'.
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I have a new story! It's called Steel and Butterflies. It has a prologue and the first chapter posted already. Link: http:/www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/s/6188855/1/Steel_and_Butterflies
Just remove the (dot) and replace it with, well, dots!
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Stephenie's.
The next morning I woke to find Edward had already gone to rehearsal. He again left me a note on his pillow. This one read:
I have rehearsal until 8 tonight. I can't wait until the performance is over tomorrow so I can actually spend time with you in New York. Alice is waiting for you in the kitchen with breakfast and a wedding planning itinerary. I love you, my angel. I'll see you tonight.
I smiled and buried my face to Edward's pillow, inhaling his scent and thinking about what he said last night. I absolutely knew I'd heard him say he wanted me to be his wife. I couldn't get the thought out of my head. It made me excited and scared shitless at the same time knowing Edward wanted me.
After a few more whiffs of Eau de Edward from the pillow, I decided to put all of the getting married thoughts out of my head. I mean, he probably thought I was asleep when he said it, so it didn't really count as an admission. I showered, put on a little makeup, threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and went to the kitchen to meet Alice.
The second she saw me, she jumped up, her mouth moving a mile a minute. "Okay, Bells, we have to pick out a dress – at Vera Wang, of course! – and figure out flowers and your maid of honor dress and what the guys are gonna wear and – "
"Alice, breathe," I interrupted. "First of all, when do you want to do this wedding?"
"We're getting married here, in New York, in four days. We want to get it done and go on our honeymoon when you guys go home," she said, her face positively neon it was glowing so brightly. She was so happy, and her excitement made me smile.
"Sweetie pie, that's a little soon, don't you think? Also, won't your mom want to come?" I asked.
"Mom will get over it. Besides, she'll understand. She knows how I am, and she'll realize I won't want to wait to marry the most amazing man ever just because of a few things like proximity to the family. I'll call her tonight to tell her and give her the option, but I doubt that she'll take me up on it. I'm kind of bummed Charlie won't be here, though."
"Yeah, he'll be bummed, too. He thinks of you like his second daughter. He probably would have insisted on walking you down the aisle."
"I would have loved that. He's the only father figure I have. Bella, we need to get Charlie here!" she exclaimed, her panicked mien odd given her usual cheerfulness
"I'll get on it," I said with a laugh as I went back to Edward's room to call my father. After explaining the whole situation and reminding him of Alice's impulsive nature, he agreed to fly to New York for her wedding. Alice was listening to my side of the conversation with bated breath.
When I hung up, I turned to her and said, "He's coming. He's about to arrange for the days off and is going to drive to Portland to day before the wedding catch a flight here."
Alice jumped into my arms and screeched, "I'm so excited!"
I laughed at her and slid out of her embrace. "Come on, girlfriend, we have a wedding to plan."
Six hours later Alice and I had picked out her dress, my dress, the tuxedos for Jasper, Edward, and Charlie, and the wedding rings. We weren't quite sure what to do about flowers since we didn't know the city very well, so we called Esme and Rosalie and had them meet us so they could help in our search. When we called, they were at Rosalie's parents' house with Jasper and Emmett, but they decided to come help us anyway because, as Rosalie said, "This place is sucking my soul out of my anus."
When we finally met up with them at the Cullens' apartment, Esme said to us, "I know exactly where we need to go. What kind of flowers do you have in mind?"
With that prompting, Alice was off, going a mile a minute with her vision of the perfect wedding flowers. Rosalie and I looked at each other and laughed. By now Rosalie was well-versed in the ways of Alice, and she knew exactly what poor Esme had gotten herself into.
As Esme and Alice led our pack and discussed the merits of baby's breath in a bouquet, Rosalie asked me, "How's Edward doing?"
"He seems okay. Why do you ask?" I was kind of concerned about the reasoning behind Rosalie's worries. She'd seen Edward almost as much as I had in the past couple of days and she'd never shown that she had any concerns.
"Tanya's not exactly the easiest person to deal with when you're on good terms with her. I figure she'd be making his life hell at the rehearsals, given all of their history."
"She was trying, I think, but it seems like Edward's finally standing up for himself." I smiled at her, hoping to convey that Edward really did seem okay to me.
"It's because of you, you know," she said, almost as if it were an afterthought. After a pause, she continued. "I've never seen him this happy. As much as he says his one true love is music, he never seemed truly happy with his life unless he was on a stage. Now I see him with you, and he just seems so… buoyant and full of life. You've changed him, Bella, and definitely for the better."
I could feel the blush spreading across my cheekbones. "I don't exactly know about that. I do know I love him madly and he makes me insanely happy."
Rosalie grabbed my hand and squeezed it. "Good. I'm excited for you both. Maybe we'll be planning your wedding soon!"
You have no idea how close to right you might be, Rose. No idea.
"Again, Tanya! The melismas are sounding sloppy, especially since the violins are so crisp. Thank you so much, guys," I said with a smile to my violin section.
Tanya looked at me, her ice blue eyes pleading with me. "I need a break, Edward. Please?"
I looked at the rest of the orchestra and the other soloists. They all looked at me with indifference. Finally I sighed, "Sure. Everyone, be back here in 15!"
The orchestra set their instruments down on their chairs and left the hall in almost complete silence. The other soloists followed suit, leaving only myself and Tanya on the stage. We stared at each other, both willing the other to be the first to break the silence. After a few more moments of glaring, Tanya inhaled sharply and began yelling.
"What the fuck is your problem, Edward? Everything out of your mouth is a criticism of me. If you don't want me here, call the understudy and have her sing the part!" she screamed, her arms waving wildly.
"Tanya, I'm just trying to give you some constructive criticism. If you don't like my ideas, don't accept them. However, as the composer of the piece, I feel I'm entitled to a little bit of input on how the notes are translated in the performance. Besides, this piece was written for someone incredibly special, and if you perform it less than perfectly, it won't convey the right message," I replied, my voice calm and even.
After a moment of choking, uncomfortable silence, Tanya looked me square in the eye. "This is for her, isn't it? The brunette who punched me?"
"Yes," I said, my voice suddenly very quiet. "She helped me find the music again after you took it from me. She's amazing and wonderful and everything you aren't. Why wouldn't I write for her?" And why do you fucking care?
"I know you don't believe me, Edward, but I really am sorry for how I treated you. I did what I thought I had to in order to get ahead in my career. When I look back, I see I didn't have to hurt you. I really did love you… as much as I'm capable of, anyway." Tanya looked away from me, and I could see in her expression that she was thinking about something. I'd never seen her look so sad, so pained. It made me wonder if she really meant what she'd said, or if she'd just gotten that much better at deceiving people.
"I don't know if I can believe you, Tanya. What you did hurt like hell. I gave up music – my one true passion in life – for five years because of you. I couldn't compose because of you. It all hurt too much. I've finally gotten it all back, and here you are trying to make a mess of things. I know you begged to be here just to see me, didn't you?" She gave me a small nod, and I continued. "Why can't you just let it all go and leave me alone? Are you trying to make sure I'm never happy?" My voice had risen to almost a yell, and I was having a hard time controlling my urge to throw the rehearsal chairs around. Who did she think she was? Why the fuck did she feel the need to make my life so fucking complicated?
"That's not it at all, Edward. I just wanted to apologize. I know you'll never forgive me, especially after all the humiliation I put you through. I know you did a lot of things you weren't comfortable with because of me."
"Yeah, because I stupidly thought it would make you happy. I was so disgusted with myself. It took me a long time to realize the person I should have been disgusted with was you. You used me." I turned away from her because if I had to look at her for a second longer, I would have done something I would have regretted.
"I know I did. And I'm a horrible person for it. Believe it or not, I've changed, Edward. This business has taught me I need to surround myself with positive people because they're the ones who stick by you when things go wrong. I chased all of my positive people away. Even recently, I ruined my friendship with Rose by sleeping with her husband. I'm trying to learn how to do things right, and I still fuck up everything." She sounded like she was sniffling, and when I turned around, I saw the tears running down her cheeks, her blue eyes brightened by the moisture in them.
"Tanya… don't cry," I said, my anger completely neutralized by the sight of her crying. Never once in all the time I'd known her had she cried. She didn't even cry when her mother died. Yet here she was, sobbing as she sat down in one of the rehearsal chairs.
"I'm sorry, Edward. I'm sorry for being so horrible to you. I'm sorry for all of the horrible things I've done, and I can't do anything to take them back. God, I wish I could take it back." Her entire body shook with the force of her sobs.
I sat down in the chair next to her and hesitantly put my hand on her shoulder. "All you can do is try your best to be a good person. You can't change the past, but you can change your present and future. It's all on you, though, whether to make the changes permanent. Now, the orchestra and the other soloists will be here in a few minutes, and I don't want them thinking we can't get along. Let's go over some of the things I want you to look at while you dry your eyes. You think you can sing?" She nodded. "Good."
I showed her a few vocal lines I wanted her to sing a little lighter so the notes moved more easily. She seemed to understand why I wanted them sung that way after I explained and was even able to give me a smile as the instrumentalists and other vocalists came back into the room. After that, the rehearsal ran really smoothly, and she and I had agreed to a truce.
When the rehearsal was over, I was exhausted and ready to fall into bed and just sleep. I called Bella, and after a few minutes we both decided it would be best to just stay in for the night. I caught a cab and almost fell asleep as it drove me to my parents' apartment. As I paid the driver, I wondered what Bella had done all day. I also found myself wondering something I hadn't thought of the entire day: did she hear me last night?
I'd whispered to her I wanted her to be my wife. It was out of impulse, really. I was sure she'd been asleep. Still, I couldn't help but hope she had heard it. Once the words had left my mouth, I knew I meant them with every fiber of my being. She was the one who brought me back to life when I didn't think it possible, and she loved me so much. And I loved her just as much, too. If she gave me any indication marriage was something she wanted with me, I would buy the ring as soon as humanly possible.
The second I opened the door to the apartment, I heard a chorus of female laughter from the direction of the kitchen. When I turned the corner of the living room, I saw my mother, Alice, Bella, Rosalie, and Maggie all eating ice cream and sitting at the island in the center of the kitchen. There were papers and pictures all over it, and Alice was furiously writing things down.
I walked in and asked, "What's all the cackling for?" as I put my arms around Bella's waist. She leaned back into me and sighed contently.
"We're planning Alice's wedding," my mother said with a gentle smile. "She's decided she wants to get married in four days while everyone's already in New York."
"Oh, I see," I said with a laugh. "And she needs all of you to help?"
"No, she needs all of us to mock her while she's concentrating on it all. She's so serious," Rosalie said before shoving a bite of chocolate ice cream into her mouth.
"Well, in Alice's defense, she is planning a wedding in like three days," Bella said. She snuggled a little closer to me, her head leaning against my right shoulder.
"Thanks, Bells," Alice murmured as she continued to jot down notes.
"As much as I'd love to continue this conversation, I've had a long day. I'm going to eat something and go to bed." I let go of Bella and walked around the island to the refrigerator.
"Don't even bother looking, dearie. Miss Bella here made you something, and it's keeping warm over there," Maggie said, nodding her head in the direction of the oven. I went to the oven, opened it, and found myself a plate of fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread on the side. I took it out of the oven and set the plate down next to Bella's stool.
The girls kept talking wedding shop while I sat next to Bella, eating the pasta she had cooked for me. Every few minutes, I'd look over to her and smile, silently showing my appreciation for her thoughtfulness. She smiled back every time, her deep brown eyes sparkling with love and joy.
"Come on, guys, it's not like you haven't planned your weddings in your heads for years and years," Alice said in a huff.
"Actually, dear Alice, all of us here have played the role of bride except for our lovely Isabella," Rosalie said with a wink to me.
"Yeah, Al, and I totally wouldn't be freaking out about the planning like you are. I'd definitely go the simple route," Bella responded as she put her arm around my shoulder. "That way Eddie here wouldn't have to shoot me with tranquilizer darts to get me calm enough to actually walk down the aisle."
Her words were exactly what I wanted to hear. She actually saw herself marrying me. Now the ball was in my court, and I definitely needed to do something about it while here in New York. I figured that with the romantic buzz surrounding us because of Alice and Jasper's wedding that it would be the perfect time. Maybe after the concert…
"Except Edward hasn't asked you," Rosalie countered.
"He'll ask if and when he's ready, Rose. You know how our Edward can be: he thinks things through without letting irrational emotion get in the way," my mother said as she leaned over and patted my hand.
I looked at the five women around me and saw they were all staring at me. I wasn't sure what they were expecting, except maybe for me to drop on one knee and propose to Bella right then and there.
It wasn't going to happen, though. I made my decision in that moment to propose to Bella after my concert. I wanted her to first see, or rather hear, my love for her in the music before I gave her a ring. I also made sure to plan a trip to Tiffany's for tomorrow during my lunch break.
Edward had been acting weird. In fact, I could pinpoint exactly when he started acting weird. He'd come home to find me, Alice, Rosalie, Esme, and Maggie knee-deep in wedding planning. When the conversation turned to the idea of him proposing to me, he acted very nonchalant about it, and I couldn't help but worry. I knew I'd heard him say he wanted me to be his wife, but his demeanor hadn't changed at all. He was still the same sweet, playful Edward, and I was confused.
What made me even more nervous was that he was spending his every waking moment with Tanya. I knew Edward still harbored a lot of resentment toward her because of what had happened between them, but I also knew Tanya was manipulative and determined when she wanted something. I was just praying that right now, she didn't want Edward. I was pretty sure another fight would not exactly look good for me.
Luckily, my worrying about Edward and my assistance in planning Alice's wedding helped me forget about James. I figured with Edward, Emmett, and Charlie around, James wasn't going to be able to get near me. And even if he did, I now knew I could take him in a fight. The only thing that bothered me was that dream from long ago when he had a gun. It made me realize if James ever did approach me with a gun, I was fucked, since I didn't carry one. I made a note to myself to mention it to Emmett so we could figure out the protocol to get a license to carry one in the state of California.
On the day of the concert, Edward was, of course, still rehearsing. I was about to leave the house with Alice that morning to pick up a couple of wedding things when my cell phone rang. The caller ID showed it was Angela from my publishing company.
"Hello?" I answered. I was actually glad to be talking to Angela for once. I'd finished the book, and it felt like a weight had been lifted off me.
"Hello, Bella. I'm calling to ask how the book is going. How much longer do you think it will be before you send us the manuscript?" she asked, her voice cheerful and pleasant. Granted, Angela's voice was always cheerful and pleasant.
"I finished it a couple of days ago. I'm also in New York right now, so if you want, I can print it out really quickly and bring it to you. I'm not going to have enough time to bind it, though," I said as I went back to Edward's room. I turned on my computer and waited for it to load my files for the new book.
"That'll be fine. Really, I'm sure it'd be okay for you to e-mail the files, since you'll be turning it in a little bit ahead of the new schedule we've set for you. Do whatever you want."
"Actually, I'm think I'm going to print it out after all and take it to get it bound. I'm sure Alice will forgive me for cancelling our plans. You'll have it tomorrow," I said as I looked around Edward's room for a printer.
"Sounds great, Bella. Have a good day!" Angela said, her sentence punctuated by the click of the telephone.
I quickly explained to Alice what was going on, and then set out to find a printer. I couldn't find one in Edward's room, so I picked up my laptop and its power cord and wandered around his parents' apartment look for one. I came upon a room that had bookshelves lining every wall. A large desk was in the center of the room, and behind the desk sat Carlisle, reading a newspaper. He looked up the second I entered the room.
"Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt, Carlisle. I was looking for a printer. I need to take my manuscript to get bound so I can turn it into the publisher," I said, my words rushing out of my mouth like water. There was something about the Cullen men, apparently, that made me unable to keep my mouth shut.
"It's no interruption. Come on in. I'm afraid the only printer in the house is in here, but since your computer is a laptop, I don't think it'll be any trouble to hook it up," he said with a kind smile.
I set the computer down on his desk and found an electrical outlet to plug the power cord into as Carlisle located the printer installation disk. When he did, he handed it to me, and I inserted it to start the process.
Carlisle cleared his throat. "So, Bella, how has your trip been so far?"
"I've enjoyed it a lot. I've missed Edward while he's been in rehearsals, though," I responded as I sat down in one of the leather chairs in front of the desk.
"I'm afraid that'd be my fault. Ever since he was young, I always tried to instill a 'practice makes perfect' mentality in my son. He resented me a lot for it, I think, when he was a kid. He was home schooled so he could devote enough hours to his musical studies to make him as magnificent as he is now. It wasn't until he brought Jasper home for the first time, excited he had his first friend, that I realized I made a few mistakes along the way," Carlisle said as he leaned back in his chair. He looked kind of wistful, and I wondered if he'd ever told Edward any of this.
"I'm sure if you explained your reasoning he'd forgive you," I said, even though I wasn't quite sure if it was the right thing to say.
"Too much time has passed. It's too late."
"It's never too late," I said. "Talk to him. He'll understand. He's the most understanding person I know."
Carlisle smiled. "He's lucky to have you, Miss Swan. You're pretty understanding yourself. Now, let's get this manuscript printed. You have a concert to get ready for tonight."
Carlisle and I sat there, reading the newspaper, as we waited for my manuscript to print. As we waited, I thought more about the magnificent man who loved me and how Carlisle was wrong. After everything I'd been through, I was lucky to have him.
A/N: Title comes from the song "I Can Hear the Bells" from the musical Hairspray.
Another chapter with no references! It's either a miracle or a sign that I need to watch more movies and listen to more music.
Review, if you so wish.