Readers: Normally I'm not a big one for long author notes, but I have a few things to say on this chapter, so I hope you'll indulge.
1) This is the last chapter of Geek Love. What was going to be a 15K word short story turned into an 80K word short novel. But the time has come, and it is done. I am sad, but very happy for our geeks. Having said that, expect two out-takes to be published in the next month or so. They were commissioned as part of the Fandom Gives Back auction.
2) THANK YOU READERS. I cannot say enough how much I've loved writing this story, and how much each and every review you submitted made me smile, and sometimes even giggle snort my coffee.
3) THANK YOU BETAS. Many people helped me with Geek Love, but particularly I want to say thanks to GreenPuma, DiamondHeart, LadyAnne, and JeccaBee. *wipes tear*
Without further ado, I give you Geek Love: The Final Chapter.
Geek Love Chapter 22: In Which Edward Contemplates the Space-Time Continuum
Six months later
Walking into the downstairs game room of my parent's house, it was impossible not to laugh at the scene before me.
Bella was sitting on the floor, legs crossed, her modified netbook propped open, typing furiously. I had helped her install OSX on her Dell mini netbook, and received a very special thank you for it.
Don't remember the 'thank you'. Erections aren't a "family brunch" activity.
Every few seconds Bella would look up at the giant TV screen thoughtfully, then return to her laptop, fingers flying over the keyboard.
Jasper lay sprawled on the couch, making comments presumably aimed at Bella. Some she would ask briefly about, some she merely nodded and dutifully noted in her document.
Alice lay on the other end of the sofa propped against a pile of throw pillows, feet in Jasper's lap. In her hands was an iPhone, turned landscape. She was engrossed in whatever was on the tiny screen, ignoring the larger one—which was impressive given the size, volume, and content.
Jasper took his eyes off the screen, looking at Bella. "Did you get the software?"
"Um…yeah, I got a trial of a few different ones. Right now I'm just working in Neo Office. I'll migrate it over later." She spoke without looking up or interrupting her flying digits.
"OK. We need to talk deadlines and stuff soon."
"Yeah, and you need to do research on locations and talent. We need to keep in mind what's feasible—don't want to break any laws." She waggled her eyebrows at Jasper, making him laugh.
"Locations huh? What about—"
"Jasper, I only have two rules. No farms, and no 'little people'."
"What? God, woman, you ruin all my dreams. How does Edward put up with you?"
Bella flipped Jasper the bird. "Talk to the hand. Oh, wait, the rest are busy, just talk to this one finger."
I sat behind Bella, wrapping my arms around her waist, enveloping her hips in my thighs. She reached around and squeezed me in brief acknowledgement, still typing with the other hand. Having Bella in my arms always felt like I was finally whole. I could never get enough.
Jesus, Cullen, there you go sounding like you forgot your balls again. Maybe Oprah could hire you to work for her as a 'hugger', giving out hugs to her studio audience. Or tiny baby animals.
Ignoring my inner monologue, and snuggled up to Bella. Leaning my chin on her shoulder, I read her notes—chunks of scene descriptions interspersed with random dialogue ideas. It was fucking awesome. Some of it was so funny I laughed hard enough to force Bella to stop typing for a moment, earning a glare from her.
"Cullen, if you can't stand the heat get the fuck out of my screenplay."
Jasper's eyes tore away from the TV, and he leveled Bella with a glare, one eyebrow raised. "Your screenplay? What the fuck am I, chopped monkey nuts?"
She laughed. "Sorry Jasper, our screenplay. You know this is mostly yours. I'm just your glorified secretary slash color commentary."
Yes, Jasper and Bella were writing a porn screenplay.
Active research was ongoing on my dad's 55-inch 1080P screen.
None of this surprised anyone in the house. What did surprise me was Alice's lack of attention. We had all gotten to know the tiny spitfire of a girl who had taken my brother's heart. She was funny, sweet, smart, fearless, and devoted. Everything I could want for my brother. She was also a porn freak. Again, everything I could want for my brother.
So, her ignoring the giant bukkake scene in front of her was more than a little out of character.
"Alice?" I spoke quietly, trying not to interrupt Bella's notations.
"Mmmm?" She didn't even look up. Her right thumb scrolled slowly on the screen, eyes darting almost imperceptibly left to right as she read whatever it was, then quickly tapped out some text.
"Alice, didn't you pick this movie?"
"Mmmm. Yeah. I guess." Again, she hadn't even looked up.
"Alice?" I chuckled a little, knowing I sounded like a four-year-old.
"What?" She still didn't look up, and was clearly less amused than I.
"Whatchya reeeadin'?" I sing-songed.
Now she looked up, tilting the screen toward to back of the sofa—further away from my eyes—as if I could see it anyway.
"Oh, um, nothing. It's something for…work."
Fast as an adder strike—and equally silent—Jasper's hand darted out, snatched the iPhone from Alice's unsuspecting grip, and he leaped over the back of the couch to safety, giggling.
Surprisingly quickly, she followed, lunging at him. "Jazz, you fucking—"
"Holy shit!" he interrupted, eyes glued to the phone's screen as he warded off Alice's attack with one arm, holding tight to the iPhone with the other. "Alice, is she really—"
"Shut up, Jazz! You weren't supposed to see that. Now keep your freakin' pie-hole shut."
"Do you ever want to have sex again?"
He sighed, handing the phone back to Alice. "OK, fine."
As curious as I was, I left it alone. She may be tiny, but Jasper's wife was ferocious. I'd been on the receiving end of her playful punches before, and they left bruises. Big ones.
Bella, however, hadn't looked up from her screenplay. She was chewing thoughtfully on her bottom lip as she typed a word, backspaced over it, and then typed another. I loved how seriously she took her work—whether it was at her actual job, or writing a porn screenplay with my brother. The woman was intense, serious, dedicated, and yet also playful, funny, and…let's face it…she was just perfect.
At least she was until she reached behind her and casually took my iPhone from its home on my belt.
Snatching it back from her, I reacted much more quickly than I had intended to. I knew instantly that had been a mistake. It looked awfully suspicious.
"Edward?" she asked, confused, "What's up? I just wanted to check something online—"
"Can't you use your netbook? Where's your phone?"
I knew my defensiveness was only making things worse, but I really needed her to not see…things.
"I left mine upstairs in my purse, and my netbook isn't on your parent's wireless network since you locked the security down by MAC address."
"Oh." Relieved to have the distraction from my admittedly odd behavior, I grabbed her netbook, beginning to retrieve the MAC address so I could add it to my parent's wireless network. "Let's fix that."
Bella let me, but didn't help me. She just sat and watched, her expression growing more suspicious by the second.
Normally this wouldn't have aroused any suspicions from my girlfriend—geeks are, by nature, weird about their toys. However when you add in the times I'd had to sneak off to an empty office to take calls at work, quickly close my browser window when she approached, or hold off checking my voicemail till she wasn't nearby, the woman was starting to suspect that I was—
"Edward, are you hiding something?"
"No, Bella, of course not." I took her hand, looking into her eyes so she could see the truth there. I wasn't hiding anything…bad…after all. But I knew that's what she was thinking. We may be utterly in love, and deliriously happy together, but she was still a girlfriend, and they tend to get suspicious when their boyfriends lie. Particularly when they're as bad at it as I am.
"Bru-u-nch!" my mom's voice called down the stairs.
Grateful for the distraction, I jumped up, suddenly eager to eat—or rather, to get Bella thinking about something else. "Come on your pornverts, brunch is ready."
No one moved but me. Jasper was engrossed in the video again, Alice was frantically texting someone, and Bella was watching me closely. Sighing, I pulled out my secret weapon.
"We have mimosas."
It was as if I had not one, but both keys to the nuclear launch device, and had used them to activate The Big Red Button, launching Jasper and Alice up the stairs.
Bella stood much more slowly, but seemed less suspicious as she walked towards the stairs. I breathed a sigh of relief at the close call and followed her up.
Reaching the main floor, the sound of more people arriving made everyone turn toward the front door. Suddenly Alice broke into a squeal, and dashed forward, launching herself at my newly arrived sister, who embraced her, laughing.
I had seen Emmett and Rosalie a handful of times since they returned from their honeymoon. Marriage had changed Rosalie a lot. Well…honestly I wasn't sure if it was marriage or the relaxing influence of a honeymoon followed by unemployment. Her epic bitchcount was epic no more, coming in at a mere 3.4 on the Bitch-o-Meter. Compared to her previous high score of 9.7, this was a vast improvement.
As for my new brother in law, Emmett had a perpetual grin on his face—probably from the daily sex demanded of him by his "trying to conceive" wife.
In fact, that particular grin was common in my family these days. There wasn't a man in the room who didn't wear a certain smug satisfaction. I tried very hard not to think about the fact that this included my father. As I'm sure he tried not to think about it including me.
Things had gone very well with Bella over the past six months. We had grown, as a couple, and all squickies were well and truly banished.
It had taken some time for things to be easy between us. In fact, the first time we actually had sex we almost gave up.
After Jasper and Alice's surprise return from their first "date", my mother had pulled together an amazing wedding reception in record time. The couple had celebrated with two hundred of their closest friends and family about three weeks after their surprise Vegas nuptials.
My mother had remained upset about Jasper and Alice's elopement exactly as long as it took for them to acquiesce to her throwing them a huge-ass party.
As opposed to a huge ass-party, which was something Jasper attended a few years back. But I digress.
Guilt is a powerful force, and my mother used it at every turn—reminding Jasper that she should get her way in all things party-related, as she had been denied the opportunity to help plan his wedding.
As with all projects my mother lavished her attention upon, it was spectacular, and went off without a hitch. Bella and I arrived at the Cullen Compound in our formal evening attire, greeted by valets, the bride and groom, and the happy hosts. There was lots of food, copious quantities of alcohol, and cake. There was a traditional wedding cake, and a groom's cake. The latter really took the…cake.
Emmett, recently returned from his honeymoon, had accompanied Alice, Bella, and me to choose Jasper's groom cake. There was only one place to go to find a cake for Jasper—The Erotic Bakery on 45th. Where else could you buy a cake with two naked men whipping each other, sporting proportionately gargantuan marzipan dongs? Or a platter of pierced nipple cupcakes?
The cake Jasper had the privilege of cutting in front of two hundred people stood about two feet tall, and was a sculpture of a naked woman—entirely anatomically correct—whose torso and head were actually formed from a huge penis.
It was a dick with a face and boobs…and a vagina. Yes, a dick with its own vagina. I theorized this contradiction of nature might create a fissure in the space-time continuum, or possibly lead to the discovery of cold fusion, but Alice assured me that such things had existed in Thailand for centuries, available to anyone for the right price.
I did not ask for details.
After the cutting of the cake followed by much hilarity, celebration, drinking, and only two accidental submersions in the koi pond, the evening was declared a success, and my beautiful girlfriend asked me to take her home.
In the weeks following our trip out to Forks, Bella had slowly transformed. She almost glowed with contentment as the pressure she had been putting on herself slowly left. Our relationship was solid, we were in love, and her dad and I had made peace.
We both knew she was still worried about our final physical step, but honestly it didn't concern me in the least. It would happen when the time was right, and I felt no rush for it. The steps we had taken were more than I'd expected. I knew the rest would come with time.
The night of Jasper and Alice's party, she made it clear that time had come.
Returning to my apartment after the festivities, Bella led me to bedroom. We slowly helped each other out of our clothes, until we stood face to face, wearing nothing but our underwear—though in her case that happened to be an amazingly tantalizing strapless bustier and matching panties.
I would have been the happiest man on the planet just kissing her for the entire night. Holding Bella in my arms was the best feeling I'd ever had. We fit together just so, and I never failed to smile when she wrapped her arms around me, pulling me in.
She told me she loved me often, but it was unnecessary. It was in everything she did. Every time we slept in the same bed, every time she asked me to touch her, every time she let me see her tears, I heard it loud and clear. She was trusting me with her pain, trusting that I would see she was broken and want her anyway. I didn't see it that way, but I knew she did.
But this night, the night we celebrated the addition of Alice to our family, Bella decided it was time to put her demons to rest for good. She led me to the bed, her hair, newly released from its pins, flowed over her shoulders and onto me as she pushed me onto my back and crawled up my body. The "don't touch" rule was still technically in effect, but was not strictly enforced for tried and true activities.
Like playing with Bella's fantastic boobies.
I was now free to do that at any time, and I took full advantage, much to both of our amusement. She thought it was hilarious that I liked to just keep my hand there while we watched movies, or sometimes even while we ate breakfast. I thought it was hilarious that she didn't realize they were basically an "on" switch for her, and almost every time I touched them, we ended up getting each other off.
As she straddled me, leaning in to initiate a deep kiss, my hands drifted up her sides before cupping her soft flesh. She moaned in my mouth, pressing against me. I loved her responding to me like this. I had spent so many months—years almost—dreaming of this woman, imagining her just like this, only the reality was so much better than any fantasy.
We kissed and touched, exploring each other. She took my bottom lip between her teeth, biting gently, before caressing it with her tongue. Our eyes met as we kissed, my need to stay connected with her, to make sure she was OK, always paramount. She pulled away for a moment, smiling.
"I love you," she whispered.
"So much," I whispered back.
We kissed, caressed, and explored more, her hands wandering across my chest, shoulders, and arms, occasionally running her hands through my hair. As much as she teased me about it being permanently messy, she always made sure it was. I chuckled at the idea that she might have a messy hair fetish.
Thanks to Jasper I've heard of weirder things, that's for sure.
As my hand traveled over her covered breast, grazing her nipple, Bella whimpered against me, pressing her hips hard against mine in response. I continued to tease her as she turned, lying on her back pulling me on top of her. This was something relatively new. I had conspired for her to always be on top when we were close, or at least side-by-side, figuring it gave her more control. But lately she had wanted to be under me, and honestly, I liked it. A lot. Seeing her below me, eyes bright, cheeks flushed with color, lips swollen and red from our kisses, I had never wanted anything more in my life.
And she was mine.
As I was hers. At least I hoped so, since she was taking off my boxer briefs.
Resting my weight on one elbow, I kissed her deeply while helping her remove my clothing. I let out a gasp as her hand found me—only partly because it was really freakin' cold—and heard her breath speed up as my mouth found her nipple, deftly freeing it from its confines with my teeth.
She gasped loudly as my tongue teased her. Her thighs wrapped around my hips, and pulled me close. It was then I realized that she had also removed her own panties.
"Bella," I hissed. "Careful."
"Of what?" she whispered back, chuckling a little. "Accidentally having sex?" Then her expression grew more serious, and she added, "I want to, Edward."
"Now?" We hadn't discussed it, and as much as I wanted it, I was concerned for how it might turn out. The last thing I wanted was to upset her.
"Are you sure?"
Our eyes met, and I could see no reservation there—nothing but desire and love.
"Yes, Edward, now." She reached a hand between us, stroking me as she whispered, "I want to feel what it's like to have you inside me."
I reached for the nightstand to grab a condom from my "whenever the time comes" stash I had recently purchased. I knew Bella had been on the pill for years to regulate her cycle, but condoms were habit. I'd never had sex without one.
Bella's hand stopped me as I was reaching in to the drawer.
The tone of her voice caught me by surprise. She sounded shy, almost embarrassed. I turned to see her face matched her tone exactly.
"What is it, Love?"
"Can we…not…use one of those? I…I…want to feel you inside me."
My first instinct was to tell her we needed to use one, but then it hit me. If I had my way, this was the only woman I would be close to…for the rest of my life. I could shed the one barrier I had always kept; could be closer to Bella than I ever had been to another woman. This would be a first for both of us, though in different ways.
Slowly I pushed the drawer closed and lowered my face so our foreheads touched. Resting there a moment, I let everything pour over me. I was scared of screwing it up—of rushing her, or frightening her. I was worried about how much I wanted this. I wanted it to last, but the mere idea of being inside Bella, let alone unprotected, almost sent me over the edge. But mostly, I wanted—no needed—Bella to be OK.
"I think you should be on top," I whispered, kissing the corner of her mouth, my hand drifting slowly over her many intriguing curves.
She shook her head, placing her hands on either side of my head to move me back, meeting my gaze. "Please, Edward? Can we be just…like this?"
"I'm afraid you won't feel in control like this, sweetheart."
"I'll tell you if I get scared. I promise. I just want it to be…to be…like I'd always imagined." She turned away shyly, her cheeks burning redder.
I realized then that she was asking me to fulfill her fantasy, and smiled, loving the idea that she had thought about us like that too.
"Anything," I said sincerely. I would give her anything.
Our hands and mouths continued touching, exploring, my fingers somehow finding themselves teasing between her legs as my mouth found her nipple. Her breathing sped up, and I could tell she was getting close. She needed to be as ready as possible—as relaxed as possible—for this to happen.
"Edward," she moaned. "Edward, please…"
"No," I whispered back in her ear. "You have to do it."
Her hand found its way between us; found me, guiding me to her. The moment I touched her I could tell she was ready—physically at least. As she pulled me into her, grabbing my hips with her thighs, slowly joining us, she released a sigh. Inch by inch she pulled me in, until I was fully seated within her.
It was almost too much for me. She felt so…perfect. I hadn't expected for her to take me all the way in like that. It felt too fucking good. I had never experienced this…intimacy…before, and it threatened to do me in before we even got started.
Baby bunnies bathed in…
Luckily for me, Bella didn't move. She kept her legs locked around me in an iron grip. I had been watching her face closely, looking for any sign of discomfort. Our eyes met, and she smiled at me, a tiny, sweet smile. Then she closed her eyes, and after a moment, a large tear fell down the side of her cheek.
Panicked, I began to pull away, but she held me close, gripping me firmly.
"Stay," she whispered the command.
"Bella, you're upset! I knew this wasn't—"
"Edward," she said quietly, "just hold me for a minute, please?" She pulled my face to hers, looking into my eyes. The hurt I expected to find wasn't there. At a loss for what to do, I did as she bade, and held her tight, tucking my face into her neck. We were still joined, her legs holding me tightly.
"We can stop," I whispered, weaving my hand through the hair at her temple. "We can always stop."
"That's true. We could stop." She spoke in a low, almost sad voice. "We could stop, and try again another time."
"Of course, Bella. Is that what you want?"
She didn't loosen her grip on me at all. "I don't want to go backwards, Edward," she whispered. "I don't want to fail at this. But…fuck…I'm scared." Her voice broke a little as she said it. "I don't know what to do."
"Baby," I pulled my head back, smiling at her, "Bella, you've already done it. We're together." I indicated the space—or lack of space—between us. "You don't need to prove anything. We did it. There's no failure here."
She sighed. "It's not…it's not what I wanted though, Edward. I didn't picture us stopping here." Her voice broke again. "I wanted…more."
"Do you still want more? Or do you want to try some other time? Or never? It's your call, sweetheart."
"I want more," she whispered.
I smiled again, brushing the hair from her temple, kissing the tip of her nose. "OK, then you'll need to unlock me. Whenever you're ready."
After a few moments she took my hand from her face, and lowered to her breast, just as she had done the first few times I touched her there. Slowly I began to touch her, tease her, and get her relaxed again. I kissed her, touched her, and stroked her until she began to squirm against me. Then slowly, her legs relaxed, and she began to move against me. I tried hard not to move; to let her set the pace.
"Oh." She let out a tiny sound as she experimentally pushed against me once, then twice.
Resting my weight on one elbow, I let my mouth fall to her breast, freeing the other hand to move south, touching her carefully as she moved underneath me. Her movements were driving me crazy, but I was so concerned for her I knew I could ignore the urge if I needed to.
She clutched at my hair, pressing me harder against her breast as she moved against me more quickly. It was all I could do not to move with her. She felt so fucking amazing.
Suddenly she pulled my head off her breast and looked me directly in the eye.
"Edward, please do this with me? I need this to be both of us."
I knew then what she meant. No matter how much we agreed her taking the lead was a good idea, ultimately we both had to be equal partners. She wasn't feeling my presence in this act. I threw our "rules" out the window, and kissed her—hard.
"Tell me if—"
"I will," she panted.
With that I joined her, meeting her tiny thrusts with my own, trying to match her pace. My hand stayed between us, doing what I knew from experience worked for her. With each thrust she relaxed. With each movement she became freer.
"Oh, God! Edward…that's…oh shit!" Eloquent as ever, Bella was letting me know in no uncertain terms that we had broken new ground.
For my part, I was just trying not to…well, you know.
Bella grabbed my face and pulled me down for a kiss, frantically clutching at me, kissing me between mumbled declarations of love, until she cried out, body shaking, and threw her head back in a gesture I had gotten to know very well in the recent past. The sight of her climaxing beneath me, knowing we were finally truly together, sent me over the edge, and I came, clutching at her, desperate to be as close as I could to Bella.
"Baby brother!" Rosalie called out to me, walking into the foyer, arm around Alice. She looked as relaxed and happy as she had the last few times I'd seen her. Walking over, she gave first me, then Bella a hug.
I smiled, remembering their first meeting on Rose's wedding day, when she had shown such stellar cuntitude towards my girlfriend. But Rose was someone who knew when she was wrong, and would apologize…eventually. With Bella she made an extra effort, and they had coffee together right after Rose returned from her honeymoon. By the end of that day they were comfortable together, if not fast friends.
Alice, however, had become the girlfriend Bella had never had. They bonded as quickly as Jasper and Bella had, and the four of us spent a lot of time together. Alice and Emmett had definitely become part of the family, and everything seemed to be turning out great. Only one thing was missing—
"Edward dear, can I see you for a moment?" My mother walked into entry of the dining room as the whole group was getting seated, waving to me.
Bella looked up curiously as I abandoned my seat, telling her I'd return shortly. I shrugged in a "who the hell knows" gesture, but Bella merely narrowed her eyes at me.
I really do suck at lying. Not even my shoulders can pull it off.
Mom led me up the stairs to her massive master bedroom, closing the door behind her.
"Do you have it?" I asked anxiously.
She scoffed. "Do I have it? Pfffft…I'm your mother, and a society lady. If there's anything I know how to handle, it's this."
I smiled, and pulled her into a quick hug. "Thanks Mom. You're fucking awesome."
She handed me the box, opening it before placing it in my palm. I almost had the breath knocked out of me. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
God, do I need to revisit that whole "where's my vagina" thing again?
"Are you sure you're OK with this, Mom?" I looked up to see her face, and knew she was more than OK with it. Her eyes shone, and her smile was utterly genuine.
"Grandma would have be very, very happy, Edward."
"I hope so. I hope Bella is, too. Thank God this is almost over, she's starting to get suspicious."
My mother chuckled, shaking her head briefly. Do you remember my surprise fortieth birthday party?"
"Did you know I hired a private detective to tail your father a few days before that, because I thought he was having an affair? He'd been acting so cagey—hiding things, sneaking off to make phone calls—I couldn't think what else it might be."
I looked up, shocked. "You thought Dad was cheating on you? Jesus, Mom. You don't think Bella thinks—"
"Whatever she thinks, son, it's not going to be an issue in just a few minutes, right?"
I smiled. She was right. It would all be over soon.
Patting my hand briefly, she turned to leave the room. "Come down when you're ready, Edward."
Forgetting to acknowledge her, I stared at the small box in my hand, running over in my mind what I had planned. Squaring my shoulders I tucked the box into my hoodie pocket and left the room.
My hoodie, it should be noted, was a zombie hoodie, complete with "How to Kill a Zombie" instructional. There was no denying the influence Bella was having on my life, right down to my wardrobe.
Coming back down the stairs, I heard a loud kafuffle in the dining room. A happy cacophony involving hugs, tears, and spilled orange juice. The sound wasn't unexpected, but the timing was. Curious I peeked my head in to see everyone crowding around Rosalie and Emmett, hugging and smiling.
Bella saw me and mouthed, "Pregnant."
My sister was pregnant. I was going to be an uncle! "Holy fuck!" I blurted out, effectively silencing the room. Emmett playfully covered the baby's "ears" by putting his hands on either side of Rose's still-flat belly, and scolded me for my language around his son.
In a flash I was around the table, arms wrapped around my sister. "Congratulations sis," I said quietly. This was all she had wanted, and she was living her dream. I couldn't be happier for her. "And…um…nice work, Emmett!" I high-fived my brother in law, making my dad laugh and my mother blush.
Looking at Alice, I asked, "Is that what all the stealth-ninja texting was about?"
She nodded enthusiastically, grin splitting her face.
Sitting back down to brunch, I ate in silence, listening to my family talk about the first grandbaby. Bella watched me, the curious look back.
"What did your mother want?" she asked, chewing a piece of French toast as she waited for my answer.
"Oh, um…nothing. She needed help moving something in her room."
It was sort of true. I moved the little box out of the room…
"Liar, liar, pants on fire," she muttered grumpily, returning her gaze to the plate in front of her. It was stacked Bella-style, with French toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and something creamy-looking that I couldn't even identify. She had an array of beverages in front of her also, including mimosa, milk, water, and coffee.
"Good thing I have money," I thought, "that woman's gonna be expensive to feed!"
Just then my father stood, tapping his mimosa glass gently with a butter knife to shut everyone up. With my family something closer to a starter pistol is more effective, but in this case it worked well enough.
Raising his glass in a toast, Dad spoke about family and how happy he had been to welcome Emmett and Alice to the Cullen clan. He went on to say that while this new baby was a shock because clearly he was "far too young" to be a grandfather, he was overjoyed at the news.
Everyone raised a toast to the new family, tipping their mimosas back enthusiastically in celebration. It took approximately ninety seconds for my mother to turn to Jasper and Alice and ask, "So, when will you two be bringing a new member to the family?"
Jasper, not expecting that, choked on his mimosa, earning a hearty back pounding from Emmett. Alice merely stared unblinking at my mother, her mouth slightly agape, fork mid-air.
I chuckled, knowing she was just fucking with them. They apparently didn't get the joke. It was, however, a perfect introduction for me.
"I'd like to be next," I chimed in, probably louder than necessary. All eyes flashed to me, including Bella's. Everyone else wore a look of curiosity; hers bore an expression bordering on sheer terror.
"A…baby?" she squeaked, all color draining from her face.
I laughed, shaking my head. "No, Bella, you."
I stood then, pulling the box from my pocket, and pushed my chair out of the way. Kneeling in front of Bella, who by now was covering her hands with her mouth, eyes shockingly wide, I began to speak. Everything I had thought to say, even jotted down in notes, was gone. I couldn't remember a bit of it, so I just started talking.
"Bella, the two years I've known you have been the happiest of my life. I kick myself every single day when I think about how much time I wasted looking for the balls to ask you out. I don't ever want to waste time like that again. I want to make a life with you, have a family with you, and—"
"Yes!" Bella hollered, interrupting me. "Fuck, yes!"
She then launched herself off her chair and onto me, knocking us both to the floor. Her legs straddled me as she kissed me fervently.
"Awesome! Looks like they're gonna make the next grandbaby right now!" Emmett chimed in.
We broke apart, laughing, and Bella sat up, allowing me to regain just a little of my dignity. The family crowded around, trying to get a view of us on the floor.
"So that's what all the Spy vs. Spy lying to me was about?"
"Yes," I replied, grateful to finally be free of my secret burden. "Jesus jam on toast woman, you're hard to lie to."
"You were lying about the…wait, I didn't imagine that did I? There was a shiny, right? I saw a shiny." Bella's eyes darted around the floor. Reaching over I grabbed the small box from under the table, it having fled to safety when Bella attacked me.
I laughed again, ecstatic she had said yes. I knew she would marry me eventually, but had thought possibly she would resist the first few times I asked.
"Yes, Bella. It was my grandmother's…um…shiny. And now it's yours."
Holding the box up for her, she grew sober as she looked at the ring. My mother had worked carefully with the jeweler to restore it, keeping the original setting and stone, but updating and reinforcing the band.
I feared for a moment that Bella didn't like it, but then she held out her visibly shaking left hand for me, whispering, "It's perfect."
Still sitting on the floor, I placed the ring on her finger and kissed it gently, pulling Bella in for a hug. She began to cry, gently at first, escalating to a full-fledged blubber.
"It's OK, Bella," Emmett called out, "I cried at first too. But you get used to them."
Bella and I laughed together, and I wiped her eyes before we climbed up off the floor, to the general applause and congratulations of my family.
Cloud nine wasn't good enough for how I felt right then. I was flying on cloud eleven—because in my world it always goes to eleven.
As we sat down to resume the oft-interrupted brunch, my mother brought Bella a much-needed tissue, hugging her tightly before taking her place at the table again. Bella looked down at her plate of food, a lost expression on her face.
Laughing, I teased her, "You gonna be OK with that? I'm worried you might start crying again and get snot all over your pancakes."
"Oh, shut it, Cullen!" She rolled her eyes in my direction. "This coming from a man who said 'balls' when he proposed to me."
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