A/N: Firstly and foremost, I would like to thank every single one of my readers for the amazing support I've received in the last year and a half or so since I posted the very first chapter of this story. It honestly started off as just something fun to do while I was still writing ABC, in the midst of all the angst that was going on at the time, and it just grew into something that I became more passionate about than I ever intended. You all have been so incredible and patient with me through all the hecticness and delays in updates due to several RL issues that have bombarded me, and I really don't think there are words to express how absolutely grateful I am to you all for it. I have felt so incredibly blessed to have the amazing readers that I do, so thank you so so much.
Secondly, again I apologize it's taken me so long to finish this last chapter. The finished product I am posting tonight is the fifth rewrite, as the first four attempts at it didn't even meet my expectations for it. And I felt both the characters and you the readers deserved way more than that. Then as luck would have it, I became ill for a few weeks and then my computer died, and I was off the grid for a few more weeks. Thank god for Dropbox, that's all I'm saying. And I want to thank those who sent me the sweet pms and messages on Twitter, they were very much appreciated.
So you may have noticed that the word count on this thing is pretty damn high for me. I swear, I blame my computer dying and having to resort to notebooks for a few weeks. The characters just wouldn't stop talking. And Starbucks, for playing two songs by John Lennon ("Woman" and "Jealous Guy") that in a lot of ways, fit this Edward very well, and just inspired so much of this chapter.
Thank you one more time to my amazing friends and prereaders for the all your support and going above and beyond for me more times than I can count. You're all amazing and I love you all *hugs and smooches*
Lastly, I will be compiling Late Night Encounters into a pdf file, with all the author notes and everything cleaned out and re-edited, for anyone who wishes to have a copy. You can PM or email me, and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.
Thanks again everyone, and hope to see you all again soon. :)
Late Night Encounters Epilogue
Just crossed the state line. So sick of driving already. See you after work. Love you.
The moment my phone vibrated in my pocket that morning at work, my heart began to race without even looking down at it. I knew it was Bella, and she was just that much closer. After all the daily conversations that lasted well into the night, texts through my long hours at work, and months of waiting, the day had finally come for Bella's arrival in Chicago.
After finishing up the sutures on a nine year old girl's finger, I took advantage of the slow morning in the ER and headed down to the cafeteria to eat and read her message.
I can't wait to see you. Be home by 7:30. Love you too baby.
I was acutely aware that the knowledge that she was so close would make the remainder of my twelve-hour shift drag, but it would be worth it. At the end of the day, I would be going home to Bella.
"Been seeing a lot of that smile lately," Nurse Banner remarked as she startled me by sitting down across table. I watched the wrinkles deepen around her eyes with her kind smile as I fought my own from widening and shrugged. "Wouldn't have anything to do with a certain little brunette I've seen on your desk, would it?"
"Yeah, my girlfriend just graduated from UCLA and is moving here this weekend," I replied and slid my phone back into my pocket. "She'll be here tonight."
"I'd always wondered when a good one would snatch you up," she spoke softly before taking a bite of her sandwich. "Guess that explains why the illustrious Dr. Cullen, who almost never takes time off, will be on vacation next week?"
I chuckled softly and nodded, shifting my food around the plate. It felt strange to be talking about Bella with someone besides Emmett, which even that had dwindled to occasional phone calls since his move to LA. Though disappointing to have our friends so far away, for both Bella and myself, Emmett's visit to the city had sparked a love for it in him. And after much convincing by him that California would hold more opportunities for Rose than Chicago, she relented. He'd come back long enough to put in his notice with the hospital and pack up his apartment before he was "back to the Mrs."
Yet, I hadn't realized how much of a secret my girlfriend of five months had actually been, as it was not my intention. Few people had entered my office to see her pictures on my desk, and even fewer had been around me as I spoke to her on the phone during my breaks. I'd never been an overly social person to begin with, so it didn't seem out of the ordinary that I hadn't talked to anyone else about her. However, sitting across from someone and having a conversation about my girlfriend felt good – really good.
"You deserve it, Dr. Cullen. It's nice to see you distracted by something not involving this hospital once in a while," she said with a soft giggle, wiping her mouth with a napkin.
I shifted slightly in my chair and drew in a deep breath. I knew I'd changed a lot in the past few months—pushing my breaks to the very last second, just for a few more moments to talk to Bella, when I'd rarely taken more than a couple minutes before. Looking forward to the ends of my shifts and going home, rather than approaching it as something I needed to do. However, I wasn't aware it had been noticeable to others as well. "That bad, huh?"
"No, not bad. Just … different. It's actually been nice to see you not driving yourself into the ground finally," she replied, reaching across the table to rest her hand on mine. "You're an excellent doctor, one of a kind. Everyone knows that. And in my twenty-five years here, I'd be hard pressed to remember a better one. But there's more to life than these sterile walls, and we'd all hate to see you burn yourself out before you realized that."
The older woman's words continued to ring in my ears, even as she stood and walked away to return to work. I hadn't realized how much I actually was burning myself out before Bella stumbled into my life. She was my angel in so many ways, and more than I ever deserved. And I knew exactly how lucky I was to have her.
The hours ticked by like days as I returned to work, moving from bed to bed and wishing more than ever for seven o'clock to arrive. My anxiety grew more when I didn't hear anything else from Bella, even long after she should have already arrived at my apartment.
When my phone finally buzzed again in my pocket around six, I sighed heavily in relief as I looked at the received text.
Please tell me Chicago traffic is not always this bad. I could walk faster than this.
She was in Chicago. Exactly where didn't matter at that moment, just that she was there.
Just pay attention to the road. I'll see you soon, I typed back as I moved to the next patient and offered Nurse Banner a small smile and a wink as we passed each other. I swore I heard her laugh softly behind me and I looked back to see her giving me a thumbs up before settling back into the seat at her desk.
After a seemingly endless array of the "start of summer" influx of patients streamed into the ER near the end of my shift, I was relieved when I glanced down at my watch for what had to be the hundredth time in an hour.
6:59. One more minute, and then I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
"Have a nice vacation, Dr. Cullen," Nurse Banner said with a chuckle as she walked by while I was hanging my coat in the locker.
"That's the plan," I replied with a smile, closing the door quickly and waving goodnight to her on the way out.
I counted every street sign that passed, tapping my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel at every stop light. The reality that I would actually be seeing Bella that night hit me with full force, but even the short distance to my apartment was excruciating. I wanted nothing more than to touch her, hold her against me, and inhale her scent; everything I'd missed so much, it hurt.
When I finally pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex, I anxiously began scanning each space for her car. As I parked mine in front of my building, I grabbed my phone from my pocket as I stepped out. Just as I was about to start dialing, I spotted a set of headlights coming toward me and paused.
I closed my door and watched as the car slowed, pulling into the space beside mine and shutting off. My smile grew the instant I caught the hint of a loose brown ponytail peeking up above the door and I began moving around my car toward her.
Bella finally turned to face me and a tired smile appeared on her face, her shoulders visibly relaxing the moment her eyes met mine. "I made it."
Without hesitating long enough to respond, I closed the distance between us and swept her into my arms. She laughed, clinging around my neck as I lifted her from the ground and spun her around, burying my face in her neck. "Oh God, you're here. You're finally here."
Bella's fingers wove into my hair, wrapping her legs around my hips and hanging onto me tightly. We remained wrapped around each other for several silent moments until her body began to tremble in my arms. I lifted my face to look at her and she kissed along my cheek, meeting my eyes briefly with her tear-filled ones before pressing her lips against the corner of my mouth.
"Hi," she said in barely above a whisper, tracing her fingertips along my jaw.
"Hi," I teased and she giggled against my lips as I sealed them over hers. Slowly, they parted and we both moaned in contentment as her tongue glided along mine. The kiss was passionate, yet not demanding; signifying it among every other kiss we'd shared. There was no more racing against the clock or saying a long goodbye ever again. Nothing but enjoying every moment we had together.
We slowly pulled apart and our foreheads leaned together, her fingers running along the back of my neck.
"What took you so long?" I sighed jokingly, my eyes still closed as I reveled in the feel of her in my arms a little longer.
"Sorry, but one speeding ticket in Denver was more than enough," she murmured and unwound her legs from around me.
My eyes shot open and I felt my brow crease as I looked at her, a slight blush coloring her cheeks. "A speeding ticket? You never mentioned a speeding ticket."
Bella shrugged as I lowered her feet to the ground. "I didn't want you to worry that I wasn't being safe. It wasn't by much. I was just in a hurry to see my man."
My hands rose to hold her face between them and I kissed her softly. "I'm not going anywhere, baby."
Her smile returned and she lifted onto her toes to brush her lips gently against mine. "As much as I'd love to stand here all night in your arms, I doubt your neighbors would appreciate the view much."
I chuckled and wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pressing my lips to her temple. "On the contrary, I think they would enjoy the view of a beautiful woman in their parking lot entirely too much."
"Flattery will get you nowhere, Mr. Cullen," Bella laughed as she hugged herself against my side. "I've been in that car since I left the motel last night and I'm in desperate need of a shower."
"You're still the most beautiful thing in my life, baby," I whispered, unable to resist kissing her one more time as we reached my door. We entered my apartment and I flipped on the light, finally able to take her in fully. "So damn beautiful."
Bella slid her arms around my waist and pressed her face against my chest, releasing an embarrassed laugh as her stomach growled.
"Have you eaten at all today?" I asked in concern, looking down at her hiding her face in my shirt.
"No, I was hoping to get here in time to shower and make you dinner before you got home, so I didn't stop," she mumbled grumpily. "Can see how well that worked out."
I smiled at the muttered grumble under her breath and ran my hands along her arms. "Don't worry about that. Just go take a shower and I'll order some food."
"I need to get my bags," she said and started for the door, but I grabbed her hand and pulled her back.
"Like you've never raided my clothes before?" I teased, tugging lightly on the shirt she was wearing—my t-shirt. She bit her lip with a blush and looked down, nodding slowly. "Just go take a shower and relax. We can deal with all that in the morning before we leave."
"Tomorrow. Right. Parents," Bella said nervously, her body tensing slightly.
"Baby, you have less to worry about tomorrow than I do, believe me. My mother has been waiting to meet you for months, and she never misses an opportunity to remind me of that." I lifted her chin with the tips of my fingers and kissed her gently before she pulled away and headed for the bedroom.
I'd just closed the door and was carrying the bag of Chinese takeout into the kitchen when Bella walked out and settled onto the couch. Her head leaned back and she closed her eyes, releasing a slow breath.
"It feels so good to sit somewhere other than my car." Her voice came out in something akin to a moan and I gazed at her from the kitchen while I plated our food.
Dressed in nothing more than a pair of my shorts and a t-shirt, her wet hair clinging to the skin of her neck and shoulders, she'd never looked sexier—even through her obvious exhaustion.
"Are you going to make it through dinner?" I asked with a light laugh as I sat beside her, setting our plates on the coffee table.
"Mmm hmm. Just give me a minute," she murmured with a slight nod.
I smiled and stabbed a piece of chicken with the fork and held it to her lips. "Open."
Bella laughed tiredly and opened her eyes. "Edward, you don't have to feed me."
"Oh, humor me and open. You need to eat," I replied with a chuckle.
Bella rolled her eyes with a smile and took the fork into her mouth, and then closed them again as she chewed. Her hand rested on my thigh and ran slowly along the denim, turning her head to look at me. "I can't believe I'm really here. I thought today would never come."
"Me too," I whispered, tracing along her cheek with the backs of my fingers before leaning toward her and kissing her gently. Her hand rose to cup my jaw and hold me against her, taking my bottom lip between hers and pulling me closer. "Baby, we have all night."
"I know," she sighed against my lips, her fingers trailing down my neck and chest until her hand fell to my lap. "I've just missed you so much. It's been a long three months."
"I've missed you, too, baby. But you need to eat. Doctor's orders," I replied and she lightly slapped my thigh with a laugh, mumbling a 'not my doctor' under her breath as she finally sat up to eat.
Once we finished dinner, I brought our plates to the sink and by the time I returned, Bella's eyes were already closed again. Her chest rose and fell in slow, even breaths and she looked so peaceful, I hated the thought of waking her up, even to bring her to bed.
I made my way over to the couch, running my fingers lightly along her arm to wake her without startling her too much. Her eyes flew open and she sat up quickly, rubbing her hands over her face briskly.
"Sorry, guess I'm just more tired than I thought," she mumbled, taking my hand and gently tugging me down to her.
"Nothing to apologize for. Let's go to bed," I whispered against her lips, sliding my arms underneath her to lift her off the couch.
Bella's head rested on my shoulders and her fingers toyed lightly with the hair at my neck. "But it's barely even nine."
I chuckled, leaning my cheek against her hair as we entered the bedroom. "And you just drove a couple thousand miles over the last few days. I'm pretty sure I can forgive you for being tired."
As I set her down on the bed, she immediately curled into the covers while I stood to undress and then climbed in beside her. She rolled over to face me, snuggling into my arms and draping her leg over mine.
Her eyes opened sleepily and she brushed her lips softly against mine. "But we haven't made love yet, either."
"Enough 'buts'," I murmured, kissing her forehead and hugging her against my chest. "I plan on making love to you every single night I can. But I doubt it would do either of us any good if you fell asleep halfway through."
"That was a 'but'," she grumbled, sliding her arm around my waist and pressing her body closer to me.
"Just sleep," I whispered, running my hand soothingly over her hair, but she never responded again. And her soft snores soon followed.
Bella fidgeted in the passenger seat throughout the entire twenty-minute drive to visit my parents, twisting her fingers in her lap until we pulled to a stop in front of the house. She released a sharp gasp when I reached over to rest my hand over hers and gave them a gentle squeeze, her head spinning quickly to look at me.
"Baby, relax. You're not being dragged to an executioner," I said gently and her hands loosened minimally on each other.
"I know. Just … what if they don't like me? What if I trip and fall flat on my face, and embarrass the hell out of myself," she replied with hastened breaths, leaning her head back against the headrest.
I linked my fingers with hers and brought her hand to my lips, kissing it gently. "Bella, you just spoke to my mother this morning on the phone. Did it really sound like she doesn't like you?"
"There's a big difference between talking on the phone and meeting face-to-face," she sighed and her gaze returned out the window. "I mean, am I really what she envisioned for her son? Her only child?"
"Am I what your father envisioned for his little girl?" I asked pointedly, keeping her hand in mine as I rested it on my thigh. "You make me happy, Bella. That's all that really matters to either of them. Okay?"
Bella took a deep breath and nodded, gazing up at the house one more time. Her fingers gripped mine tightly and she still made no motion to get out of the car.
I turned her face toward me and leaned in to kiss her gently. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she whispered against my lips, her eyes remaining closed for a moment as she slowly exhaled her held breath and then finally looked at me again. "Okay, I'm ready now."
I smiled and released her hand to step out of the car, reclaiming it in mine as we met at the front.
The door of the house swung open and my mother emerged from inside with a wide smile on her face. She came toward us and embraced me, and I hugged her tightly in return.
"Happy Birthday, sweetheart," she cried, standing on her toes to kiss my cheek before pulling away and looking to the woman at my side. "This must be Bella. You're even prettier than your picture."
Bella laughed nervously as my mother embraced her as tightly as she had me, her cheeks coloring in embarrassment at the compliment. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Cullen."
My mother pulled back with tears in her eyes, holding Bella's face between her hands. "And it's so wonderful to finally meet you. I was beginning to think my son would never smarten up and settle down."
"Mom," I groaned, running my hand through my hair.
"Well, it's the truth," my mother replied in a non-chalant tone, shrugging and looking back to Bella. "And please just call me Esme."
"So, where's Dad?" I asked, changing the subject upon noticing the absence of my father's car.
My mother kept her arm around Bella's shoulders as she escorted us into the house, almost as if afraid that she would disappear if she let her go—a feeling I was all too familiar with. "Oh, he'll be back. I just sent him out to pick up a few things for me."
While my mother retreated to the kitchen to finish lunch, I walked outside to find Bella staring out at the back yard from the same footbridge I'd stood on months before, pondering what an ass I'd been. I walked along the edge of the water until I reached her, sliding my arms around her waist from behind and pressing my lips to her hair. "What are you doing out here?"
"Just thinking," she replied softly, leaning back against me as the soft breeze blew her soft locks over my cheek. "You didn't tell me you were this rich. I don't think I've ever seen a house that big in my life, except in pictures. You could put two of my bedrooms back home into your kitchen. How am I supposed to fit into all this?"
I gazed at her profile for a moment before turning her in my arms to face me. "Okay, first of all, my parents have the money, not me."
Bella rolled her eyes and shook her head, resting her hands on my chest. "It's the same thing, Edward."
"No, it's not," I replied, taking her face in my hands. "And even if it was, it wouldn't matter. We fit, right? That's all that counts."
Bella shifted nervously, bringing her eyes to meet mine with a deep breath and nodding. I smiled and leaned in to kiss her until our peaceful moment was interrupted.
"Hey, loser! Quit making out with your girlfriend and get up here so I can wish my friend a happy birthday," a familiar, boisterous voice echoed across the yard and I turned to find Emmett and Rosalie standing on the back porch beside my father. "Surprise!"
Taking Bella's hand, we walked toward them, where I was immediately engulfed in a hug. "What the hell are you doing here, you brute?"
Emmett's laugh joined mine as he pulled away, smacking my shoulder in the process while the girls shared an emotional embrace. "Like I'd miss my best friend's birthday and your mom's cooking? Do you not know me at all?"
"Yeah, I'm practically killing him with mine, to hear him tell it," Rose piped in as she released Bella, turning to wrap her arms around me instead. "So glad you finally pulled your head out of your ass."
I looked to Emmett as her shoulders began to tremble and her grip tightened on me.
"Hormones," he mouthed and my eyes widened.
"You guys are pregnant?" Bella asked in shock, looking between them.
Rose pulled away from me and glanced at Emmett. "No, I'm pregnant. He was just along for the ride in the fun part."
"Congratulations. Both of you," I added as Rose's eyes turned to glare at me. I quickly took Bella's hand while Emmett wrapped his arms around his wife's shoulders, turning toward my father and clearing my throat at his expectant gaze. "Dad, this is Bella."
"Pleasure to meet you, Bella," my dad replied with a smile, taking her hand and leaning in to kiss her cheek, and then looked back to me. "Your mother said lunch is just about ready."
Back at my apartment that night, I sat on my bed and ran over the day's events in my mind. Once Rosalie arrived, Bella seemed more at ease, and by that evening, the two women were chatting and laughing with my mother as if they were old friends. Her smile returned and even grew whenever her eyes would meet mine, where I stood talking with my father and Emmett.
"Marry this one. She's a keeper," was my father's parting statement, whispered to me as we were leaving, eying me meaningfully from the doorway as we began making our way down the driveway.
The bathroom door opening broke me from my train of thought, and Bella stepped out with her hands behind her back.
"Okay, so I had no idea what to get you for your birthday," she started with a heavy sigh, walking toward the bed and kneeling on the end of the mattress. "I know you said I didn't have to, but I really did. Even with everything we've been through in the last nine months or so, it's still been the best nine months of my life. And if nothing else, I wanted to say thank you, and I love you. So, Happy Birthday."
I watched as her hand came out from behind her and held out a red envelope. I sat up and folded my legs in front of me, taking it from her and shaking my head. "Bella, the best birthday present I've ever gotten is sitting right here in front of me."
"Just open it," she replied with a soft laugh, gesturing toward the envelope.
Sliding my finger underneath the loose flap, I lifted it and pulled out the contents. It was a generic birthday card, but what was inside caused my forehead to crease slightly. "A key?"
Bella held her breath and nodded, releasing it shakily. "To my apartment. I know it's probably stupid and pointless, since you'll most likely never have to use it. I guess it's more of a symbolic thing. Just because we live apart doesn't mean I want to be apart. I think we've done enough of that."
Her eyes nervously rose to meet mine as I gazed at her in stunned bewilderment, until my smile broke through and I wove my free hand into her hair. Pulling her gently toward me, I felt her fingers run along my thighs while mine curled around the back of her neck as our lips met, our kiss deepening with soft moans echoing from both of us.
"My birthday was damn near flawless before," I whispered breathlessly as my lips broke away from hers, opening my eyes to gaze at her beautiful face. "Thank you for making it absolutely perfect."
"It's just a key, Edward. It's no gold watch or World Series tickets or anything," Bella replied with an uncomfortable laugh, listing through the gifts I'd received from my family and Emmett.
"It's not 'just a key', Bella," I said, wrapping my arms around her and turning our bodies to lay her on the bed, hovering above her and brushing her lips softly with mine again. "It's your key, and your trust. That means more to me than anything. And I promise to earn it every single day from here on out."
Bella gazed up at me with an adoring look in her eyes as she traced her fingertips along my face. Her arms slowly made their way around my shoulders, bringing my lips back to hers in a silent acceptance and sliding her foot along my calf. "Why don't you open the rest of your present?"
My brow furrowed as my eyes glanced once again to the card I still held until she turned my chin with her fingers to look at her, trailing them down her throat to the skin exposed by the parting of her satin robe. Realization dawned on me as I watched their path and then looked up to the mischievous smirk on her lips. I felt every muscle in my face relax at once as I propped my head on my hand while the other swept down the valley between her breasts to the tie of her robe. Her arms fell to either side of her head as the two ends came free and I parted the fabric to find her completely naked underneath. "I stand corrected. Now it's perfect."
Bella's laugh filled the room as I buried my face in the crook of her neck with a deep groan, sliding my arms underneath her and rolling us over until she was straddling my hips. She sat up and allowed the fabric of her robe to fall from her shoulders, my eyes trailing over every inch of her skin as it became exposed. Drawing in a slow breath, her hands covered mine as they ran over her stomach and up to her breasts, her tongue moistening her lower lip as my thumbs brushed her nipples. Her fingertips traced down my arms as she exhaled with her head tilted back in pleasure, raising it again as they ran up my chest and neck until they cradled my face, her lips lowering to meet mine and her hips rolling against me.
I groaned deep in my throat as my hands moved down her sides, gripping her thighs and fighting every urge inside me to flip her over again and bury myself within her. Every rock of her body as she kissed down my neck caused a rush to flow through me until I felt her warmth disappear, except for the soft brushes of her lips. My fingers weaved into her hair as she reached my abdomen, trailing her chin lightly along the waistband of my pants and looking up at me with heavily lidded eyes. "Bella…"
Her hands rested on my hips to hold them down as they involuntarily lifted from the bed toward her, wanting her so badly, I could barely contain myself. "Relax, baby. Let me spoil you a little for your birthday."
Her words only added to the tension, the desperate need to feel every inch of her.
My eyes closed and my neck arched back into the pillow as she sealed her lips over my erection through the fabric, massaging me from base to tip. In a torturously slow movement, she hooked her fingers into the sides of my pants, pulling them over my hips and down my legs until she removed them completely and tossed them to the floor. I opened my eyes again when I felt her breasts brush against my shins as she placed light kisses on each of my knees.
"So, what would you like for your birthday, Edward?" she purred in a sultry voice, taking my cock in her hand and stroking me slowly. My voice stalled in my throat at the feel of her soft skin against mine and shook my head with heavy pants escaping me. "Tell me."
"I've already gotten it, baby."
"Oh, well. Then I guess I can stop, if that's the case," Bella taunted as she began pulling away and I grabbed her free hand, shaking my head again. "Then tell me."
"Mouth. I want to feel your mouth first," I finally managed to gasp as her fingertips returned to caress the head of my erection.
"I was hoping you'd say that," Bella whispered, tracing her tongue along the underside before taking me between her lips. Her warm mouth engulfed me until I hit the back of her throat and she began to pull back, meeting my eyes briefly as she circled the tip with her tongue and then glided back down.
"Shit, Bella," I breathed out heavily, my fingers clenching the comforter beneath me to keep from thrusting my hips against the heavenly feel of her mouth. Her tongue and lips continued to massage me until I began feeling the tightening in my gut and I brought my hands to her face. "Baby, I'm gonna come."
Bella gazed up at me, lifting her head as her fingers wrapped around the base of my cock again. "Isn't that the point?"
"Inside you. I want to be inside you," I replied with a groan, taking her free hand at my hip in mine and tugging gently. With one final brush of her lips against me, she crawled back up my body and straddled my hips again, and I groaned with the feel of her warm, slickened skin gliding against me.
"As you wish," she whispered, guiding me to her entrance and lowering onto me. She moaned as I slowly filled her, pressing her lips to mine as our bodies joined together fully.
"Oh God. Fuck," I muttered breathlessly, my fingers gripping her ass to press deeper and thrust up to her. It felt like forever since I'd felt anything as euphoric as the sensation of her surrounding me, even though it had actually been only a few months. That I could hear her soft breaths and moans, feel her skin against mine, and see with every look how much she loved me. And I wanted to relish in every moment.
"All in due time, baby," she murmured, taking my bottom lip between hers and tugging lightly before she sat up.
Leaning back, her hands rested on my thighs and gripped them firmly as her hips began to move over me, gradually increasing in speed and urgency. My eyes locked on where our bodies joined, watching as my cock repeatedly disappeared inside her and I released a heavy breath. I brought my hand between her legs, circling with my fingertips and her head fell back with a gasp.
"Edward … this isn't … about me … fuck!" she growled, biting down on her lip hard. "It's supposed … to be for… you."
"It is," I replied in a gravelly tone, increasing the pressure of my fingertips against her. "I want to watch you come."
Bella released a throaty groan, arching her back more as her hips thrust down against mine. Her nails began to dig into the skin of my thighs and I hissed at the resulting pinch, driving myself into her more insistently. "God, yes!"
I watched her body begin to tremble as she growled through clenched teeth, and my hands moved to grasp her hips to hold her still. Her muscles went rigid as her orgasm swept over her, my thrusts forcing heavy pants to escape her parted lips with her eyes squeezed tight. As she began to go limp in my hold, I pulled her down to me and rolled us over to settle between her legs, gazing down at her flushed face.
"Best birthday present ever," I whispered against her lips. I felt her arms slide around my back, her leg bending at my hip and pressing me deep inside her. She tightened her embrace around me as I began to move again, soft moans filling the air and I could not take my eyes off her. "God, you're so fucking beautiful."
Bella's eyes opened to gaze up at me, her fingertips tracing lightly over my shoulder blades. I kept my movements slow, watching each breath that escaped her with every thrust. "More."
Rising up on my elbows, I gripped the pillow beneath her head with my hands and drove into her with a new sense of urgency. I was rewarded with a long, lingering moan escaping her and I could feel my muscles begin to tighten with my impending orgasm. "Shit … Bella …"
Her nails dragged along my back as she arched against me, gripping at my lower back until my breath caught and I released inside her. My body slowly relaxed and I collapsed on top of her, feeling her fingers run through my dampened hair as her breaths began to calm as well. We lay silently for several minutes, touching and brushing soft kisses against each other's skin before I rolled off her and she immediately curled against my side.
My heart raced rapidly against her cheek and I pulled the blankets over us when she shivered against the breeze ghosting over our bodies from the ceiling fan above. Her head tilted to look up at me and I gently brushed away the hair clinging to her face, tucking it behind her ear.
"I love you," Bella whispered, arching her neck more to bring her lips to mine.
"I love you, too," I whispered against her lips, pulling her body more firmly against my side. "Thank you."
"For what?" she replied with a soft chuckle, running her finger along my jaw.
"For not giving up on me," I said seriously as I gazed into her eyes, her smile faltering slightly before meeting my lips with hers.
Six months later
The snow fell heavily around me as I stepped out of the hospital and drew in a deep breath of the biting air, fighting the tears gathering in my eyes and the anger boiling beneath the surface. I needed to collect myself before I got into my car and drove home, where Bella would be waiting for me to go out for the evening as we did every Friday after work.
It's part of my lot as a doctor, I reminded myself, but for the first time in as long as I could remember, it wasn't working.
I released a loud growl and drove my fist into the side of the nearby dumpster, hearing footsteps closing in quickly from behind me. Firm hands gripped my shoulders and pulled me back, despite my struggle to break free.
"Dr. Cullen, there was nothing more you could do. She was too far gone before she even got to us," Nurse Banner's soothing voice attempted to calm me, gripping her arms securely around my chest.
"It was senseless! I could kill that son of a bitch!" I yelled out, uncaring to who else could hear me at that moment.
"Edward," she spoke softly, tightening her hold on me. "As much as I agree with you, you know you have to let it go."
I allowed her to guide me to sit on the bench beside us and leaned my head back, feeling her hand running along my arm. "How? How do you let something like this go?"
Nurse Banner sighed heavily, her eyes lowering. "I don't know. But we all need to if we ever hope to keep doing our jobs." She paused, taking my hand in hers and releasing a sharp gasp. "You're bleeding. Come back inside and let me clean you up."
I sat up and shook my head, flexing my fingers painfully against my swollen knuckles. "No, I can't go back in there tonight. Not while that bastard still breathes in my ER, when..."
I trailed off and her arm wrapped around my shoulders. "Then will you at least let me call you a cab? You shouldn't be driving in this condition, and certainly not on these roads."
"No," I replied, clearing my throat and rubbing the heels of my palms over my eyes. "Thank you, but I'll be fine. I should really just get home to Bella."
"All right, if you're sure?" she conceded reluctantly and I met her eyes with a nod. She stood from the bench and pulled on her gloves, resting her hand on my shoulder for a moment before making her way out to her car.
I remained for a moment longer, attempting to calm and slow my breaths before methodically walking out to the parking lot. The only things keeping me aware of my actions all the way home was the cold air blasting my face from the open window and my desire to get to Bella. We could go out, I could focus on her and I wouldn't have to think about the horrific experience of that evening for another two days before I had to return to the hospital.
I could hear the music from inside my apartment along with Bella's slightly off-key voice singing along as I made my way up the stairs. Her happiness and carefree mood practically radiated through the wood door and I found myself sliding down the wall to the floor, my head in my hands. How could I walk in there and shatter that beautiful sound? And on the same token, how could I manage to go in and pretend that nothing was wrong?
Suddenly, the music inside silenced and the door opened, and I lowered my head between my bent knees only a second before she emerged.
"Edward? What are you doing out here, and why are you on the floor? Are you hurt?" Bella's soft voice rang above me and I found it impossible to respond. My hands drove further into my hair until my arms encased the back of my head, folding into myself. Despite my efforts to keep myself composed, my eyes burned and my shoulders began to shake. I felt her knees brush against my thigh as she knelt beside me, her hand running up and down my back. "Baby, you're scaring me. Are you okay?"
I could only shake my head slowly from side to side, my arms folding in front of me and propped on my knees, still keeping my face hidden from her. She pulled me gently into her arms and I rested my head against her chest, feeling her lips press against my hair. "I lost a patient tonight. I just need a few minutes and then I'll change so we can go."
"Oh God, Edward," Bella said with a shuddering breath, holding me more tightly against her and my arms moved to cling around her waist. "We're not going anywhere. I'll call and cancel the reservations, and then we can sit down and talk while I bandage that hand of yours."
"Bella, I can't. I just can't," I replied, the dam inside my chest finally bursting from the pressure that had been building for over an hour.
When I'd been forced to cease compressions, hearing the words repeating over and over in my ears…
"Call, it, Dr. Cullen. She's not coming back. Call it!"
My eyes remained frozen on the lifeless form in front of me, the incessant tone of the flatline on the monitor drowning into the background as I backed away slowly.
"Time of death, 18:24," I barely managed to choke out before exiting into the hall and vomiting into the first trashcan I came to.
Never through all the years of my internship and residency had I ever felt so out of control of my emotions, or possessed such a weak constitution—or else I never would have made it through med school.
"It's okay. We don't have to talk about it," Bella whispered softly, brushing my hair back from my face with her fingers. She pressed her lips to my forehead and began to pull away to stand but I gripped tighter around her, holding her still. "Edward, let's just get inside, okay?"
Her gentle voice was soothing and my arms relaxed, allowing her to help me to stand. She kept a hold around my waist as I walked shakily into the apartment, guiding me over to the couch. I fell back into the cushions and covered my face with my hands, listening as Bella made the call to cancel our reservation as she hurried to the bathroom to grab the first aid kit.
When the couch sank beside me, I finally allowed my hands to fall into my lap while Bella removed her heels and tucked her legs beneath her. She remained quiet while she cleaned the abrasions on my knuckles, and I was grateful for the silence. I gazed at her and took in her appearance, feeling a pang of guilt rushing through me. She looked absolutely beautiful in the deep red dress she wore, her hair pulled back off her shoulders and showed the diamond earrings I'd given her for her birthday. It was supposed to be the last night we spent together, just the two of us, before the holiday season began. The following day, we were heading up to my parents' house for the remainder of the weekend to help my mother decorate the house, and I'd be on call all the next week. While she never complained, I knew she was more often than not, very disappointed.
Once she had my hand bandaged, she set the metal box on the coffee table and sat back, wrapping her arms around my shoulders.
"I'm sorry about our date tonight, Bella," I finally spoke, leaning my head against her. "I'll make it up to you, I promise."
I physically cringed the moment the all too familiar words left my lips, as I'd sworn to never use them again with Bella. I'd said them way too many times in the past for countless broken promises. Yet, she only moved closer to me, pressing her lips to my hair. "Don't apologize, I completely understand. We'll have other nights. Do you want me to get you anything?"
I sat up and shook my head, leaning my elbows on my knees. "Actually, I'd just like to go to bed, if that's okay."
"You want me to go?" she asked in a concerned voice, her hand running gently over my back.
Without even looking up, I quickly draped my arm around her legs to keep her beside me, surprising us both. The thought of being without her that night filled me with a sense of uneasiness, more so than any other night—rare as they were—that we didn't spend together. "Please stay."
"All right," she whispered as she kissed my temple, sending another calming current rushing through me and standing from the couch.
As I rose, I took her hand with my uninjured one, and led her to the bedroom. I undressed quickly and climbed into bed, my mind racing and running over the evening while I waited for her to change. In the past, home would have been the last place I wanted to be, and I would have opted instead for a couple of drinks at the bar, calling Emmett to drive me to my apartment when I'd felt sufficiently numbed. Yet, coming home to Bella was the only thing on my mind, wanting nothing more than to see her face and feel her arms around me. Still, she'd surprised me with her actions.
Bella didn't pressure me to talk, insisting that it would make me feel better to get it out. She didn't make me feel guilty for cancelling our plans for the evening, regardless of how many hours she'd spent getting ready and doing her hair. When she looked at me, I saw nothing but genuine concern, patience and understanding.
And it rendered me speechless.
When she finally climbed into bed with me, I moved behind her before she could turn over, pressing my body against her back and burying my face in the soft waves of her hair. I felt her fingertips trail lightly along my arm to my hand, running gently over the bandage covering my knuckles. "Does it hurt much?"
I sighed and shook my head, securing my arm around her middle. "No, it's fine. It's my own stupid fault for punching the damn dumpster."
Bella's head turned suddenly to look back at me, her fingers closing around my wrist. "You punched a dumpster?"
I drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, rolling onto my back and staring at the ceiling. She carefully turned toward me, resting her hand on my chest. My gaze moved to her, watching her eyes flicker over my face nervously. "It's not the first time I've lost a patient. But I couldn't handle this one, Bella. I came closer to throwing my entire career away tonight than I ever thought I possibly could. It was just so … horrible—"
She cut me off with her fingers pressing against my lips, shaking her head. "You don't have to explain yourself to me, Edward."
Taking her hand in mine, I pressed my lips to her fingertips before lowering them back to my chest. "Yes, I do."
Bella took a deep breath, sliding her fingers between mine and rubbing her thumb along the side of my hand. She waited patiently as I swallowed hard, gaining the strength I needed to continue—strength I knew, in that moment, came from her.
"I couldn't save her. I thought it couldn't get any worse than losing a child in the ER, but I was wrong. There's nothing worse than a five year old little girl coming to you coding, and there's not a damn thing you can do for her." By the end of my statement, my teeth were clenched so tight, I was certain they would shatter. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply through my nose, attempting to gain control of my emotions, but it proved futile as I felt the backs of her fingers brush away a tear that had escaped the corner of my eye. "As a doctor, I know I'm supposed to remain emotionally detached. But as a man, I just couldn't. Not when her father, the one man who should have protected her with his life, put her there."
I heard Bella's sharp gasp beside me and I opened my eyes to look over to her, tears spilling down her face as well. I pulled her closer, wrapping my arms around her as her head rested on my chest.
"He was so intoxicated that we could barely understand a word of what he was saying. But he put that beautiful little girl into his car and hit black ice. He got a broken leg and a bump on the head, and she—" My voice froze and I tightened my hold around Bella, her hand curling around my shoulder and her lips pressing against my chest. "And all over a damn custody battle. How can someone be so stupid and selfish? What in the world is more important than your child?"
Bella's eyes rose to my face and I could feel her gaze on me even as mine focused on the ceiling again. I'd never really given a lot of thought to having children myself or being a father, but the night's events brought my entire future flashing before me.
How it would feel to hold my child in my arms for the first time. To watch a little boy or girl take their first unsteady steps. To hear their squealing laughter as I chased them around our backyard, swinging them around once I caught them until we were both dizzy and fell to the ground. The first day of school, the graduation, lying in the silent house for the first time after dropping them off at college, walking my daughter down the aisle toward a man that would never be good enough for her in my eyes, but giving her away regardless because she looks so damn happy.
And in every one of my mind's images, it was Bella's eyes staring back at me from another face. Bella standing beside me and holding my hand in hers, lying next to me, as she was right at that moment, for the rest of my life.
"Edward?" her voice sounded beside me, breaking me from my reverie.
I turned my gaze to her, holding her hand against my chest and looking deeply into her eyes as I spoke to her softly. "Marry me."
My breath halted at his statement, so completely off topic from what we were previously discussing. Of all the things he could have said, nothing would have taken me by surprise more. I could still see the strain in his face of losing the little girl that night, but his eyes held a look I couldn't decipher and it unnerved me. "Edward, I know you're upset, but…"
He rolled on his side toward me, keeping my hand in his between us and resting his forehead against mine. "Tonight has been the worst night of my career so far, and nothing will ever change it. I know that. But it's also really made me think about what's important. A year ago, a night like this would have found me in a bar, and ended with Emmett carrying me in here after way too many beers. I didn't want that tonight. All I really wanted was to come home to you. And this is the way I want to spend the end of every day, good or bad. With you."
I gazed at him in continued disbelief. While I had no doubts in my desire to spend my life with Edward, I really hadn't expected something so sudden from him. The lease on my apartment was almost up, and we'd barely made the decision for me to move in with him. And even that was after an extended discussion and lots of planning. Spontaneity had never been one of Edward's strong suits in the little over a year that I'd known him, and every instance of it was just as surprising as the one before—but that one was an entirely new level for him.
"Bella?" he whispered after a long silence, his hand closing around mine more firmly and nervousness filling his eyes.
I cleared my throat and propped myself up on my elbow, lifting his hand to my lips and kissing it gently. "I'm not saying no, just not right now. And not because I don't wantto say yes. I just want it to be for the right reasons."
I cut him off, releasing his hand and pressing my fingers to his lips. He closed his eyes and sighed, his body going lax into the bed. I cupped his jaw and leaned in to kiss him gently. "In two weeks, I'll be here all the time and then you're never getting rid of me." I paused and he released a brief chuckle, his arm sliding around my waist to pull me against him. "You are everything I want, Edward. That's not going to change whether we get married now or ten years from now."
Edward's eyes flew open to look up at me with a stunned expression. "Ten years?"
I couldn't help but laugh at the panic in his voice and I stroked his cheek with my fingertips. "I'm not saying it would take ten years for me to say yes. But I'll still be here in ten years tosay yes, if that's how long it took for us to get to that place," I said softly, lowering myself back down beside him and wrapping my arm around his shoulders. "Give us three months. Once we're living together full time and adjusted, if this is still something you want, ask me again. I want us to do this right."
Edward nodded, pressing his face to my chest and I held him silently for hours. He gradually relaxed and I could practically feel the tension slowly dissipating from his body, his fingers tracing lightly over my skin and absorbing the serenity of the moment. "I really do love you, you know," he mumbled softly as he finally began drifting to sleep.
"I do know," I whispered, pressing my lips to his hair. "And I love you, too."
The following three months passed in a blur. The holidays had been hectic with the birth of Emmett and Rosalie's daughter, Emma, just after Christmas and their visit to show her off shortly thereafter. Alice came to stay with us for a few weeks after a rocky breakup with Jasper, giving us an opportunity to mend some of the fences between us, before she eventually returned to the ranch in Texas with him. And then, of course, settling into living with Edward among the hectic hours of both of our jobs—
I barely noticed the time passing at all.
I walked into the apartment late one night, tiptoeing through the door so I didn't wake Edward. Yet, when I turned toward the living room, my steps halted suddenly at the sight of tiny candles scattered throughout the open area and the love of my life standing in the middle of the room, dressed in a black suit with a single red rose in his hand. Tears sprung to my eyes at the beauty of my surroundings and I shakily set my purse and portfolio down on the floor, my previous exhaustion forgotten.
I wracked my brain as I began to walk toward him—we didn't have a date that night, it wasn't our anniversary or my birthday. My mind went completely blank. "Hey, baby, what's the occasion?"
Edward smiled and handed me the rose, resting his hands on my waist and kissing me gently. "You."
I sighed contentedly against his lips and wrapped my arms around him. "Mmm, I could get used to coming home to this. Be careful, or you might spoil me."
"I wanted this to be perfect," he replied, holding my face and gazing into my eyes. "You deserve it."
His fingers traced down along my jaw as he lowered to the floor, kneeling down in front of me and reaching into his coat pocket. My arms wrapped around my stomach to halt the shaking of my hands as the realization hit me of what he was about to do. I felt a tear slide down my cheek, but my smile pulled at the corners of my lips almost painfully.
"Bella," he began, taking one of my hands from its tight hold at my side and holding a blue velvet box in the other. "Over the last three months, I've thought over about a million different ways to do this. From romantic dinners to weekend getaways, but nothing ever felt more perfect than right here, in the room where you changed my entire life forever on that computer over there. I know I'm nowhere near perfect, but in everything that we've been through, you've stuck by me even when you had every reason to give up. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life making you as happy as you've made me from the moment you came into it. I want to make love to you every night, have babies with you, grow old with you and complain about our aching bones and arthritis together."
I laughed through my tears as he smirked up at me, kissing the back of my hand before releasing it to open the box, revealing a beautiful, yet simple, diamond ring. I was speechless as I gazed down at it—three stones set on a thin gold band, glistening against the flickering lights of the candles around us.
Edward's eyes returned to mine, seriousness returning to his gaze. "Please say yes."
I lowered into my knees in front of him, taking his face between my hands and pressing my lips to his, and then whispered, "Like I'd really say no."
He exhaled a breath of relief, our foreheads pressing together briefly, until he pulled back to place the ring on my finger. Our lips sealed once again and I pulled him with me as I lay back on the floor, tugging his tie loose. We slowly undressed each other and made love until we finally made it to our bed just before dawn. His arms wrapped around me as we both gazed out the window in complete exhaustion until we fell asleep watching the sun rise.
Thank God it was the weekend.
The morning of our wedding was complete chaos, as weddings often are. But since both Edward and I didn't want anything extravagant, just to become Mr. and Mrs. Cullen—after our idea of eloping was shot down by our mothers—we opted for a June ceremony in his parents' back yard. That left Esme and myself three months to get it all together and make sure my parents were there, which we managed almost completely without a glitch.
That was, until I woke up on the morning of my wedding, praying that I was still dreaming and in a terrible nightmare.
Gray clouds covered the sky and the rain that was supposed to hold off until the following day came down in a torrential downpour, and my tears flowed right along with it. My one wish for the ceremony was to have it outdoors, and of course, everyone knew it was bad luck for it to rain on your wedding day.
Everyone, it seemed, except for my future mother-in-law.
"That has got to be one of the worst old wives tales ever told," she said, clicking her tongue as she zipped up the back of my gown while Rose and Alice went to work on my veil. "There was rain, sleet and hail coming down the day I married Carlisle. One of the hailstones even came through one of the stained glass windows and knocked my Uncle George right in the side of the head. And here we are, thirty two years later and about to watch our own baby get married. It's you and Edward that will make it work, not the weather, Bella."
From that moment on, practically everything was perfect.
As I walked down the staircase on my father's arm, I spotted Edward standing under the archway that had been brought into the massive living room and I instantly forgot everything that had been plaguing my mind. The 'where and how' wasn't important, only that in a few moments, I would be holding his hand and binding myself to him forever.
Once we'd exchanged rings and the justice began to speak to pronounce us husband and wife, Edward stopped him before he could continue and took my hand in his. My brow furrowed as he led me from the room and out the back door, where a misting rain still fell.
"What are you doing?" I asked with a laugh and held up my skirt to keep from tripping as we hurried across the wet grass, with the guests following us under a menagerie of umbrellas.
We stopped on the bridge over the pond and he turned to face me, claiming my other hand in his as well. "The one thing you wanted for our wedding was to get married outside. What kind of husband would I be if I didn't try to fulfill such a simple request?"
My smile grew and tears formed in my eyes, hearing nothing past "by the power vested in me" from the justice when I felt Edward's hands rest gently on my face. His lips met mine before the final words even left the man's mouth and I melted into the kiss.
I didn't care that my dress was getting wet, or that my satin shoes were ruined. It didn't matter that on Monday, I would be returning to work instead of leaving on some extravagant honeymoon. They were just clothes, and a vacation we could take at any time.
I was Mrs. Edward Cullen, and my world was absolutely perfect.
Although having children was something that Edward and I both wanted, we decided to wait a year before we even began trying. Responsibilities with both of our jobs had increased and we barely had time to see each other long enough to hunt for the house we wanted, as well as needed in order to have room for a baby.
Yet, when we finally moved into the three bedroom house we bought only a few miles away from his parents, I began feeling the "itch" I'd heard so much about from other women. One afternoon while Edward was at work, I sat for hours in the middle of the empty bedroom that would one day become the nursery, and my mind began whirling with ideas and plans. I could almost see the white crib in the corner and the Winnie the Pooh trim along the pale yellow walls. I closed my eyes and I could hear the gurgling across the room and the tinkling music from the mobile above.
Before I knew it, I had tears streaming down my face and my arms wrapped around my waist.
"Bella? What are you doing, baby?" Edward's voice came from the doorway and I felt his hands rest on my shoulders as he crouched behind me.
"Nothing," I replied softly, leaning back against him and pulling his arms around me. "Just a lot on my mind."
"Like what?" he whispered against my cheek, kissing it gently as he lowered himself to sit completely.
My stomach fluttered anxiously as I considered what I was about to say, and what it could change with a few simple words. But I'd never wanted something so much since the moment I said "I do", and it just felt right. "What would you think about moving up the baby making a few months?"
Edward was silent for a few moments, his arms tightening around my waist slightly before drawing in a deep breath. "You want a baby? Now?"
"Well, I was just sitting here thinking tonight," I said with a sigh, turning my head to look at him. "Our lives are never really going to slow down, are they? And honestly, I could probably even work from home if I really needed to, so I could be home with the baby. I just don't think there's ever going to be a 'perfect' time to have one."
Edward's lips pursed slightly in thought and he nodded slowly, before his eyes returned to gaze at me. "Are you sure you're ready for that? The no sleep and two in the morning feedings while I'm on call, crying at all hours of the night, and I'm not just talking about the baby."
I laughed softly and bit my lip, sliding my fingers between his on my abdomen. "Yes. Are you?"
My voice carried a tone of hesitance, waiting anxiously for his reply. When one didn't come after several long moments, I exhaled heavily and shook my head.
"I'm sorry. This is really sudden and I know we said we'd wait. I'm not even sure why I came in here tonight."
"No, it's fine, baby," he replied, clearing his throat as he spoke. "And yeah, I'm pretty sure I am."
"Pretty sure?" I asked with an uncertain chuckle.
Edward's laugh joined mine and he rolled his eyes at me. "Did you take your pill tonight?"
"No, not yet." My brow creased at his statement and then I felt his lips brushing softly along my neck. "Now?"
"It's never too early to start trying, right?" he replied and I felt him smirk against my skin.
I turned my body toward him, gazing into his eyes as his head lifted. "So, we're trying?"
"We're trying," he replied, cupping my face with his hand and leaning in to seal his lips over mine. His tongue grazed mine and I froze, pulling back from him and he gave me a confused look.
"I don't know how comfortable I am doing this in the baby's room," I said, wrinkling my nose as I spoke.
Edward laughed and slid back on the floor, standing and lifting me up to join him. "Can't have her traumatized before she's even conceived, right?"
"She?" I shot back with a raised eyebrow.
"Just a gut feeling," he replied, lifting me into his arms and carrying me into our bedroom.
Millions of women get pregnant every single day, some without trying or even by complete accident.
Yet, as my twenty-fifth birthday approached, we'd been trying for eight months and I was still showing no signs of being pregnant. I hadn't been expecting anything to happen immediately, but I couldn't help the twinge of disappointment that rushed through me with every negative pregnancy test and subsequent period. Thankfully, Edward remained optimistic enough for the both of us and never allowed me to lose hope that eventually, it would happen for us. Making me all the more grateful that I had the amazing and supportive husband that I did.
Just before Christmas, Edward announced that he had to leave town for a week to attend some conference and my heart ached. We hadn't been apart for more than a couple of days while he was working since my move to Chicago, and even then, I had the knowledge that he was only a twenty minute drive away at most. And for the next week, he would be in San Diego, thousands of miles away from me again and back to texts and Skype calls, if we were lucky.
Kissing him goodbye at the airport was the hardest thing I'd done in more than two years, and I cried all the way home at the thought of the empty house and the cold side of the bed I was returning to. I barely made it through the front door of our home before all the emotions caught up with me and I had to rush for the bathroom.
The following night, I was anxious for his call, taking a long shower to kill a little more time. While making myself a cup of tea, I jumped at the familiar ring of the computer and hurried over to the table to accept the call, gazing at the face I missed at that moment more than anything.
"Hi there, beautiful," he said tiredly, leaning back against the headboard of the hotel bed.
"Hi," I replied softly, resting my chin in my hands. "You look exhausted."
Edward rubbed his hands over his face roughly and drove his fingers into his hair. "It was just a very long, draining day. And I'd much rather come home to you than a computer."
"I think I can make it worthwhile for you," I teased with a grin.
His eyes opened to look to me again and he shook his head. "Baby, you should be resting. You said you didn't get much sleep last night. I'll be home in a few days."
"Well, I wasn't exactly going there, but I've done more on less sleep than this with you," I pointed out, chuckling. "And it seems as if I'm going to be getting a whole lot less sleep than that in the very near future."
"Huh?" Edward replied with a confused, blank stare and my smile grew.
"Well, this is where we met, where we said I love you for the first time, and where I figured out that I couldn't spend another day without you," I began, leaning forward on the table. "I thought this should be the way I tell you 'Merry Christmas, you're going to be a daddy'."
I watched his face closely as it went lax, his jaw dropping slightly, but otherwise frozen in place. Through the webcam, it was difficult to tell if he was even breathing at that moment and I barely caught the intermittent blinking of his eyes. His gaze snapped up as I said his name and his lips twitched before he covered them with his hand. "You're pregnant?"
I nodded slowly, unsure what to make of his reaction. "Yeah, um … I was thinking about the way I was acting when you left yesterday, more emotional than I think I've ever been in my life, and then I got sick. But I was fine afterward. And then I got sick again at three this morning. I thought it was a long shot, but I went out and bought a test." I paused, pulling the stick out of the pocket of my robe and waved it in front of the cam, my eyes following it as I set in down on the table. "I didn't want to jinx it or get our hopes up, so I didn't say anything."
My gaze shot up again when I heard the distinct sound of him laughing; his hands covering his face with his head leaned back. They fell to his sides and he began shaking his head with an unmistakable smile on his face. "Sorry, I know this really isn't funny. But that's the best damn thing I've heard since 'you may kiss the bride'. And completely made my day worthwhile. The only thing that would make it better is if I were there to show you just how happy you've made me."
"Six more days, baby," I said with a sigh, but feeling so much relief at the smile on his face.
"You know," he started, relaxing back against the headboard again and folding his hands behind his neck. "I think it was that time in the living room, when you were wearing that little purple thing I love. That had to be the one."
"Oh God, Edward," I groaned, slapping my forehead with my hand. "You are such a guy sometimes."
"Or maybe in the shower the next morning. Yeah that was a good one, too," he continued, seemingly not noticing my statement.
"Honey, I know exactly how many times we did it that day. I was there, you know," I sighed with my head resting against my palm.
"Just thought I should remind you, in case you forgot. Because I sure haven't," he said mischievously with a wink. "Baby, are you sure you don't want to do that tonight?"
"You're going to be home in a few days, remember?" I retorted, bobbing my head sassily. He groaned and pouted a little, so I smiled teasingly back at him. "Though it would be a shame to not take advantage of a little late night encounter like this."
Edward's eyes widened in hope, and then the ass wiggled his eyebrows at me. "I knew you'd see things my way."
I laughed, covering my face with my hands and shaking my head. "I see being tired is the last thing on your mind now."
The computer dinged suddenly and I looked back to the screen.
Grneyeddoc81: So what are you wearing under that robe?
Again, thank you so much and hope you enjoyed. My heart is a little sad to say goodbye to these two, and while there is no plan for a sequel or outtakes at this time, as a few of you have asked. But who knows if and when inspiration will strike, so I can't complete rule at least outtakes out. However, I would like to finish up some of my other projects, as well as some new things as well.
Recently, ericastwilight and I collaborated on a oneshot for the Fandom Gives Back Autism Speaks fundraiser, which is still going on until the end of April, for Autism awareness. For more information on the fundraiser and the compilation for every donation of $5, please go to thefandomgivesback(dot)blogspot(dot)com.
Thank you and take care!