I had spent the last two days in a haze of wedding arrangements. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day to keep up with all that needed to be done, and now that Renee was here, on board and had jumped in head first to help, things only piled higher on our already large to do list.
I was doing all that I could to help though, at least I was trying to. Yesterday when I had awoken, it was to the sound of Bella's hair dryer. I had figured that it was later in the day and that I had managed to sleep in a bit, but when I had glanced at the bed side table and saw the clock read 4:45am, I got up to see what in the world had my love out of our bed and readying for the day.
"What in the world has got you up at this hour, Sweetheart?" She was fully dressed in her jeans and button down shirt. She had carefully done her make up and her hair was straightened, I could see she was fumbling with pins in an attempt to put it up in an elaborate manor in which... well in which I had never seen her wear.
"Were going dress shopping" she whispered with a smile to me in the mirror. I saw the joy in her eyes and her skin was lit with excitement at simply the mere mention of it. "Alice is optimistic that I can find a sample dress that will fit me off the rack..."
"Why cant you just order the one you want? Love, I already told you that money shouldn't be a concern, if that's what is keeping you from having your dream dress, then..."
"No... no, it's not money... though, now that you mention it, it should be a concern" I simply frowned at that comment so she went back to her original point, "Apparently if you haven't ordered your dress before the age of ten, then it's off the rack for you..."
I still couldn't wrap my head around all that went into wedding preparations, let alone Bella not being able to have the dress she wanted simply because of our short notice. I was still mulling over that thought when her last comment came back to me. Without another word I shuffled through the dimly lit room and found my wallet. I grabbed the card I wanted her to have and made my way to her side once more. "This is yours, use it as you wish..." I placed the card in her had and kissed her lips gently and with reverence.
I waited for her to say no, I even had the words I would say in rebuttal to her decline, I had expected it. But what I didn't expect was for her to gaze upon me as if I were the most incredible being she had ever encountered. Instead of the hasty no I was sure I would have to hear first, she instead clutched me to her small form and buried her face into my chest. "Thank you..." she whispered. "My mom looked so worried last night...after we totaled the amounts for everyone to join us in Paris...' I felt her snuggle into me deeper and kiss my chest lightly, "She told me she would buy my dress before that... and I know she was scared she wouldn't be able to both go to Paris and buy my gown..."
I wanted to say something to make her understand that I would never have let that happen... I wanted to tell her that our life was going to be perfect and worry free for the rest of our lives. I was just about to say those very words aloud but before I could find my voice, there was a soft knock at the door followed by the sound of Renee's voice, "Bella...?" I knew she had to get going and I for one didn't want to make her late for the search of her dress. So instead of my romantic and whimsy words I wanted to offer her, I instead kissed her lips gently and tenderly squeezed her fingers around the card in her palm. When we parted, she smiled softly and whispered another thank you before heading for the door.
I followed behind her as she opened the door for her mother, and when I saw Renee standing anxiously at the door, going over the stack of papers filled with various dress types and looking very deeply in concentration my heart once more tugged with sadness and then with relief... because this was really happening.
I went to Renee's side and hugged her while her head was still down and examining the page in her hands. She seemed to startle when she realized it was me. "Oh! I'm sorry, Edward... I hope I didn't wake you" She tucked her page away and smiled with absolute excitement.
"I was awake, I promise." I smiled gently and with a tilt of my head motioned for her to join me for a moment. I looked around and saw all the girls moving about the living space collecting purses, and grabbing their travel mugs of coffee. Alice and Rose were amazingly chipper for this hour of the morning and their enthusiasm seemed to be rubbing off on my love.
When I had Renee off to the side and away from the girls ears, I began. "I just wanted to ask if you would mind terribly if I be the one to buy Bella's dress." I could see her begin to shake her head as if she would not allow it, but I kept on. "I know that traditionally... you and Charlie would buy it, but... well, I want to give her this, Renee. I want to be the man to spoil her and give her anything and everything... please let me have this." I watched a smile wash over her face and seconds later she embraced me with warmth.
"You are a good man, Edward. Don't punish yourself too much about the past, it is over with and we all need to move forward..." I was about to argue that this wasn't about the past, that this was only about my love and wanting to give her the world, but Renee could see it, I watched the moment of notice cross her face and she relented. "Okay... this one is on you."
I hugged her again once more and thanked her sincerely. Just before she went to the girls I told her that Bella had the card and that I wanted her to encourage her to use it. I practically pleaded with her to ensure that Bella not only get her dress, but to get the dress that she wanted... no matter how much it cost. When I had her firm word that she would do just that, I made my way to my love and wished her a good day and to remind her once more that she should not hold back on anything... for anything. "This is your day my love... this is your day and everyday that you are with me... they are yours to be spoiled with... forever."
I watched as the women piled out the door and down to the garage. I stood watching once more as they pulled out of the drive and made their way down the road to the gated exit. When I could see the car no longer, I let myself go back to bed once more and fell into sleep dreaming of the moment I would vow myself to Bella, to the moment my life would truly begin as a man.
We stopped only for a pastry on the way to the bridal boutique and by the time we arrived at our destination, the four of us were wired on caffeine, sugar and excitement. In the time it took us to make our way in and get settled with a consultant, I had forgotten every worry I had carried with me from Florida.
It didn't matter that the past month had been hell, it didn't matter that my dad was basically boycotting my wedding, or that Dimitri still hadn't been found. All that mattered was that I was currently hunting for my wedding dress. The dress that I would walk toward my future in and say to the only man I would ever want... that I do.
I changed from dress to dress and each time went out to show my entourage. Alice and Rose were beyond thrilled each time I would step out in a Vera Wang or McCartney gown. To be honest I wasn't even sure who had designed what or which gown I was currently donning. I had made a promise to Edward that I would choose what I liked based on what I wanted... no anything else. So when Karen, my dress consultant asked about a price range, I shrugged my shoulders and gave her an honest answer. "I honestly don't want to know the price until after you have run the card... otherwise I'm sure to have you pick me something that costs no more than a couple hundred dollars." I received a warm smile and a nod from Karen for that.
I was on to my fifth dress and at this point, nothing had really tickled my fancy. Of course all of the dresses were beautiful and more than lovely, but... I just hadn't been really moved by anything I had tried on at that point. I was on my way back to change once more and as I stepped carefully toward the changing room, I saw it... "That one... I want to try that one" I pointed toward the mannequin body in the corner and knew before I had even put it on... that it was the one.
As Karen carefully fastened each button, I took in each piece of the lace that now adorned my body. It was a dress I would have never imagined... a dress I would have never thought to think of... hell it wasn't even near the styles we had brought with us as ideas. This dress was entirely its own entity... just as Edward and I were unique and rare amongst other lovers.
When I walked out into the mirrored saloon, I was met with three sets if glossy gazes and all three women held their breath in awe.
"You look absolutely beautiful, Bella... it's perfect." I watched as my mother stood and made her way to my side then wiped the tears I hadn't known were on my cheeks. "This is the one... this is your dress." I turned to Rose and Alice just as they were wiping their own tears and smiling their approval.
"Karen... please tell me that I can take this dress today... please tell me that I can walk out of this store today holding this in my hands for, Paris." I held my breath and gave her a hopeful glance.
"It seems to fit you like a glove... and the alterations that need be done, we can do today. Yes, Bella... if you want it, it is yours."
And just like that I had a wedding dress.
We had left the boutique in search of breakfast with the plans of finishing shopping for the girls and my mothers dresses while we waited for the alterations to be completed. We had hours to kill, so after we left the dress shop, the four of us settled on a nice little bistro where we dined on a magnificent brunch and sipped mimosas.
We talked about life... love... everything and anything that was good. I had never been more grateful to see the people I loved best in this world at my side and happy for me. I listened with absolute giddiness as Rose described the fast growing love that was blossoming between she and Emmett, and I had glanced over to see Alice with a happy expression but a longing in her eyes. It had just been the three of us for the longest time, even after I had found, Edward... we three remained a constant. I knew she was happy for me, I knew she was also thrilled for Rose, but I could not begrudge her for the bit of envy she seemed to have in her eyes at the moment, because I knew that Alice would never carry a jealousy... only this longing for what she so badly craved for so long.
When the sun had set and I was holding my wedding dress safely in my arms, we made the drive home with everything on our list being completed.
I had received and sent various texts with Edward throughout the day, most of all consisted of I miss you and I love you... at one point he had described how lonely it was to wake in the morning without me in bed by his side.
He asked if I had found my dress and if I was enjoying my day out with the girls. So by the time we pulled into the garage and the door to the car had been unlocked, I bolted up the stairs with the garment bag in my arms and took the steps two at a time. Before I had made it to the top, the door flew open and there waiting on the other side was the very reason for my entire existence. I jumped into his arms and felt the familiar warmth of home settle into my soul as it occurred to me that I would always run into his arms. I would welcome the burden of being away from him simply for the relief of being in his arms once more... it would be my reminder of how much I loved and needed him.
I hid my dress in the girls room and had dinner with everyone afterward. We talked, laughed, ate and drank wine as the day neared its end, and we all rejoiced in the easy going mood of the day. I stayed cuddled into Edwards side as he listened to the stories both Rosalie and Alice shared of their time abroad and then of more recent tales from our day of shopping and peace.
When the kitchen was clean and all were ready to retire, Edward and I walked my mom to the door and wished her a good evening as she went back once more to her hotel for the evening with the promise to return the next day.
As we walked slowly and with ease back into our home, we were met with silence in the front room along with the faint giggles coming from Emmett's part of the hallway. Neither of us commented on it and instead found our way back to our bedroom where we too could have some privacy and peace.
When we were tucked away in our sanctuary and the only noise we could hear was the rain falling, I sat down at my vanity and began stripping away the jewelry and clothes that adorned my body.
"You're happy" he said from his perch on our bed. I found his eyes in my mirror and smiled my acknowledgment.
"Happy is an understatement, I'm... I'm at peace." I watched him stand and make his way to me. When he was directly behind me, he gathered my hair gently and brought it over one shoulder to kiss the spot he desired most.
"You cannot know how good that feels to hear you say, Bella. Your happiness is all I want... it is all I want to give you." I felt him breath me in as his lips stayed at my ear and his arms wrapped themselves around my waist.
"You make me very happy... happier than I think I have ever been." I stood then and he drew me into his body and gently rubbed a circuit from my waist to my neck. We said nothing more, there was simply nothing else to add. He guided us back to the bed and shut the lights that left only the lightning to lead our path. When our clothes were gone and we lay bare next to one another the reality of what our life would become washed over me. I couldn't help but cuddle impossibly closer the the make shift lap he made for me against his body.
"I don't want to go back." I whispered into the dark. His arms tightened around me greedily and his face was buried deep in my hair. He said nothing in response and I thought he maybe fell asleep.
"I've thought about that too... I think about it everyday that you wake up smiling and happy here. I think about it every day, love."
There was not even a hint of reservation in his words, and I knew... he was going to give me this decision. I was just about to broach the subject carefully, but before I could find the words he laid all the cards down on the table, "We can stay wherever you want to my love. We'll go anywhere you want... live any place your heart desires. As long as you are happy... and you feel safe."
I turned gently and met his eyes. The warmth in them making it amazingly comfortable to have this conversation without shame, fear or worry. Edward was my home... his heart beat was like a light on the porch telling me someone was home... and waiting for me.
"I want to live here... in Seattle I mean. I know we would need to find someplace else to stay seeing as this is your family's condo but... I don't want to leave here."
We said nothing more about it, and the only acknowledgment I received of my words was a nod followed shortly after by a kiss that led us to far more delicious things. We didn't come up for air until well into the early morning hours, and instead of seeking out sleep, we lay awake and holding one another until the faintest hints of light reached through the glass and signaled that a new day had come.
We were each content to let the day pass us by and stay wrapped up in each other, but sometime around eight a call from the Tampa Police Department on Edwards cell phone came through. Our day turned in the blink of an eye, because with that phone call came the news that Dimitri was dead, he had committed suicide.
I stayed tucked in bed as Edward rose to let Emmett know of the news we'd received, and just as he was gone, my cell began ringing and when I answered it, my father was on the line.