A/N: Sorry for the horrendous delay. I've started writing a new story and it's burning a hole in my head and has me completely sidetracked.
Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls is a wild and crazy ride with a very different premise. Check it out.
On to the next season and the final epilogue in this sequelogue:
Chapter 73: Epilogue: Seasons Part II: Winter Lands
Once the Thanksgiving holiday ended, we were on the downhill slope to the end of the quarter at the University of Washington. It was a steep and slippery downhill slide. I had finals to gear up for and I was still making up for the debacle that had been the middle of the quarter when I'd missed classes due to illness and then injury. My professors had all been very understanding, allowing me extra time to catch up. The problem was…even though I had been given time to catch up we were also still moving forward at the same time so I had had my work cut out for me.
With December came the rains. The lovely week off we'd enjoyed at the end of November was suddenly a distant memory of the past and we were dealing with a very sodden present. This was the Pacific Northwest…or maybe more aptly…the Pacific Northwet. Bundling up in weatherproof boots and protective raingear and toting an umbrella everywhere you went became second nature.
There was one real plus in all this, however. When Edward and I would return to the dorm, dripping wet, chilled to the bone, and stressed from impending finals, in a manner of minutes we could be stripped down, heated up and completely oblivious to anything but each other.
The first time it had happened it had taken me by surprise and it had turned into quite the memorable event.
I'd come back from class, absolutely drenched and freezing. In my backpack was a handout I'd received in class, outlining everything that could be important for the final. It was ridiculous. I didn't even remember learning about some of the topics on that list.
When I walked in the door and found Edward sitting in the Swanky Fort, playing his guitar and humming along to the music, I felt somewhat relieved instantly. I felt even more improved the minute he saw my face and laid his guitar to the side, getting up and coming to me because he saw that something was wrong.
"Love, you're soaking wet. Take this stuff off before you get sick." He first unzipped and peeled off my jacket, hanging it on my desk chair. Then he knelt to help me off with my boots as I began complaining about my final and the injustice of being required to know things we hadn't even covered. He looked up at me as he worked on the laces.
"Bella, maybe some of those things were covered while you were sick or out because of your injuries and you just don't remember them clearly."
"So now you're taking the professor's side?"
He chuckled as he reached up and unbuttoned and unzipped my jeans which were soaked from mid-thigh to the hem. He began pulling the soggy pants down my legs as he spoke soothingly.
"Relax, love. I'll help you with the study guide. We'll go over things and I can help you. I've got one less final than you." He tossed the pants on the floor next to my desk.
Now that just pissed me off. Plus I was freezing and beginning to shiver.
"Are you gloating about your brilliant academic masterstroke, Edward? Choosing a class that had no midterm or final, only a couple quizzes and two measly papers…both of which were ridiculously short, I might add."
He chuckled again as he continued to kneel, pulling off my damp socks and tossing them on top of the pile that was my jeans. He ran his hands up and down my legs quickly, warming them up with the friction. When he stood back up gracefully he grabbed the hem of my sweatshirt and lifted it over my head, draping it across the back of his desk chair and reaching over to lock the door as he spoke.
"That Human Communications class was probably the most boring class I've ever taken. I had to sit through those lectures with that professor droning on and on. Shit, Bella, that guy made time stand still. I paid my dues just attending that class."
He was grinning his lopsided killer grin at me as he pulled my t-shirt over my head. That's when I suddenly realized that neither my sweatshirt nor my t-shirt had been wet. My rain jacket had covered that layer thoroughly.
"Wait. What are you doing?" I finally thought to ask.
"Shhh," he said, lifting his index finger to his lips. "I'm on a roll now, don't interrupt me." His eyes twinkled and there was a devilish little grin on those sculpted lips of his.
I watched him as he pulled his own sweatshirt over his head. He was bare-chested beneath it. Standing as close to him as I was, I suddenly caught the Edward Cullen signature scent as I gazed at the Edward Cullen To-Die-For shoulders, pecs, abs and happy trail.
I shivered again as I watched him unbutton his jeans, slowly slipping the buttons through the little buttonholes.
"You're on a roll now, huh?" I asked dumbly as I watched him slide his jeans down his legs slowly.
"Umm-hmm" he growled low in his throat.
I could feel myself growing a little lightheaded as I watched The Best Damn Strip Show Ever. I didn't feel quite as chilled, suddenly. I was beginning to sense some heat in the room. It was most probably emanating off my overly-hot boyfriend.
"What is it you're doing, actually?" I asked a little breathlessly as he pulled off his socks.
"This is the Edward Cullen Patented Girlfriend Distraction and Warm-Up Technique." He grinned at me with that wicked smile of his as his hands continued removing clothing items. "It's guaranteed to soothe your distressed mind and warm your chilled, yet inviting body, my love."
My ovaries began cheering when my panties and bra found their way to the ground at my feet and Edward's hand began softly stroking my breast. I was beginning to think this technique of his had some definite merit.
He was completely naked at this point and he was…inspired…and inspiring. I reached out and grasped him, gathering inspiration while I listened to the hiss of his slow inhalation as I touched him. His arms wrapped around me and he pulled me into his big, gentle warmth, rubbing the length of my arms as he had done with my legs. After a moment he reached down and stilled my hand as it moved along his erection.
"Actually, love," he murmured softly into my ear, "I was thinking that I'd be doing the distracting, not you."
I must have looked up at him with a pout on my lips because he smiled tenderly at me before succumbing and changing his mind. Or maybe it was the well-placed squeeze I'd just given him.
"Then again, mutual distraction is a nice thing," he sighed with pleasure as his eyelids fluttered closed. He began moving my hand along his erection once again, at the same time leaning down to kiss and lick and softly bite the shell of my ear. He made a soft humming groan as he continued moving my hand along his hard shaft for a moment until he finally stepped back, pulling away from my grasp. He looked at me with those stormy-seas sex-eyes of his
One of his eyebrows twitched.
I think one of my ovaries twitched in response.
"This technique really works best in the comfort of a warm bed, love."
"What technique?" I asked, looking at him with wide, vacant eyes.
He frowned slightly. "The one to warm you up and make you forget about your class."
"Oh." I nodded.
"What class?" I asked, keeping my face mindless and deadpan.
He laughed as he led me over to the risers and watched me as I climbed up.
"I see the technique is already beginning to work its magic."
I giggled at him as he climbed up and crawled over to me, hovering over me and looking down with a radiant smile as I slid my fingers into his hair, flexing and tugging on the trapped strands.
"Well then, come on, Houdini, work your magic; make the chill disappear from my body. Use your magic wand and warm me up." I wiggled underneath him and looked up laughing at his surprised expression.
Edward's eyes were wide, his eyebrows were arched and the corner of his mouth was curling up in that grin of his. He snickered and then lunged for my neck with a growl.
There was only one thing better than a big, warm, cuddly, sexy, happy boy. And that was a big, warm, cuddly, sexy, happy boy with a magic wand. And Edward…holy shit…he could do some serious tricks with that oversized magic wand of his.
Within an hour's time I was completely distracted from my earlier irritation; my distressed mind was calmed. I was also cozy and warm, pulled back in bed against the large spoon behind me whose warm breaths were tickling my ear. Edward was peering over my shoulder at the study guide I held out for us both to look over.
He had climbed back down from the bed some moments ago and rooted around in my backpack until he found the appropriate folder and the study guide I had lamented. I felt more relaxed now as I went through the list with three different colored felt-tip markers, sorting the topics into three categories and highlighting them accordingly: purple for "Know It," pink for "Heard of It," and green for "What the Fuck?"
The last category had been Edward's idea and he kept chuckling every time I announced a topic as a "What the Fuck?" topic. I think he got a kick out of me swearing. Apparently I don't do that enough.
So that made me roll over on my back and look up into his beautiful face and sweetly say every swear word, pornographic term or off-color remark I could think of while he alternately laughed, blushed or became slightly aroused.
Somehow that led to Edward's use of the markers on my body. It started innocently enough with a pink heart, drawn right over my heart, with a beautiful purple script "Bella & Edward" written within it in Edward's flawless cursive script. I did the same over his heart in my much sloppier, haphazard handwriting.
After that we played three games of tic-tac-toe on my stomach and two games of hangman on his. Our rainy-day coloring activities completely deteriorated when Edward basically pinned me down as we both laughed our heads off and he drew faces on my breasts. By the time he was done, we were both breathless and he was red-faced, with the veins in his forehead prominent from his exertion as he leaned over me. And I had two boobs named Te and Ta. I knew this for a fact because he had written their names between them with arrows pointing at the corresponding faces.
I pouted at him until he pulled his boxer-briefs back off and let me draw on his penis.
As I sat next to Edward, looking at my pen color choices and leaning over him, I knew what I had to do.
With green and purple pens in hand, Edward's penis became…The Incredible Hulk.
And the more erect Edward became as I went about my artwork, the more appropriate that choice proved to be. And it was so much easier to illustrate an erect penis than a flaccid one, I was discovering.
The emergence of The Hulk led us straight back to our previous sexual activities and by the time dinner rolled around I would forever be able to say I'd had sex with The Incredible Hulk. Edward and I were breathless, starving, laughed out, and in need of a good scrubbing. Instead we cleaned up a little, dressed, and went directly to dinner, giggling repeatedly over what we both knew lay beneath our clothes. It was obvious we were annoying the heck out of Emmett, Rose, Alice and Jasper with our giggles. Especially when we refused to explain ourselves, but that was just too good to share. Besides we would never live that down.
That evening, feeling a little more relaxed about my dreaded final, I scoured my notes for any and all references to anything that was in the "What the Fuck?" category on my study guide. I found a few things in my notes that I hadn't remembered, but there they were nonetheless, and I realized I had less of a struggle ahead of me than I had previously thought.
And a little later that evening, after returning from my shower and a failed attempt to scrub the highlighter completely off my skin, Edward handed me a sheaf of papers before leaving for his own shower downstairs. I glanced through the stack. He had printed up results he'd found that concerned the other topics that had still remained in the "What the Fuck?" category. He had Googled them for me and it made me teary…Edward just loved me so completely and took care of me at every turn.
We discovered in the days that followed that pink highlighter fades much faster than green or purple highlighter. The Incredible Hulk wanted to stay awhile, much to Edward's dismay. The poor guy was forced to avoid men's urinals at all costs for a few days, despite numerous attempts to scrub the hell out of his junk. I offered him nail polish remover, telling him that it worked somewhat, but he was adamant about keeping his unit away from anything like acetone, paint thinner or bleach. I mentioned hydrochloric acid in passing and he grabbed his package like he'd been burned.
Finals came and went and I found that all the stress and tension I had put myself through had been unfounded. I felt like I'd done well in spite of my fears to the contrary beforehand. Edward reminded me that I wasn't a dummy but rather his smart girl and of course I did well because that kind of stuff mattered to me.
So, with quizzes, tests, projects, papers, blue book finals and the first quarter of our junior year behind us, we were about to head home for the duration of winter break.
Which meant I would be in Forks while Edward was in Port Angeles. Granted, it would only be for two and a half weeks. And we would both spend some time at each other's homes for part of that time. But…I missed our dorm room before I even put that first duffel bag in my car. I missed my adorkable boy before I even started packing.
I could see Bella getting upset as she packed that Friday afternoon after finals week ended. She didn't say anything but I could see it in her body language. I could hear it in her exhalations. Well, I felt the same way she did. This would be the first time in my life that I wasn't looking forward to a break from school. And it all had to do with the slight, brown-haired, brown-eyed girl, dejectedly sitting cross-legged on the floor of our dorm room, sighing as she packed her bags.
She was missing me and I was missing her and we hadn't even left yet. I sat down on the floor, scooting up behind her and pulling her into me a bit. I felt her relax in my arms as I kissed her temple.
"Bella, I'm coming to your house on Sunday. I'll spend the night. And then we'll be at my house for Christmas Eve on Wednesday. I don't mind driving back and forth; what else am I going to do with my time?" She looked over her shoulder at me and I grinned at her hopefully. "Where else am I going to go?"
She smiled back at me.
"Staying at my house isn't any fun, though. You're relegated to sleeping fully-clothed on the couch."
I smirked at her. "I could always sneak upstairs to your room in the middle of the night."
"And you could see how it feels to have buckshot in your behind as you escape out the second story window and down the tree outside." She giggled at my grimace.
"Yeah, I guess that's a bad idea. But over Thanksgiving when I was there we managed some time alone when your dad was gone at work."
"I know. We'll just have to work around things," she agreed. "I just kind of like this set up we have here." She looked around the room and up at our bed before she looked back at me with big sad doe eyes. "And it makes me think about how awful the summer break will be. That will be three long months."
I nodded, sighing and threading my fingers through hers and holding her hand tightly. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, love. Meanwhile, I'm fairly certain we'll get through the next two and a half weeks okay. And then we have at least five more months of school, seduction and sex before we have to think about summer…unless you decide to dump me before then."
She turned sideways, looping her arms around my neck and looked up at me with a big smile.
"No, I'm keeping you. The seduction and sex are too good."
I laughed at my cute girl. I was always glad when I could put a smile on her face and get rid of her frown.
"Good, I'll keep honing my skills then." I kissed her thoroughly to let her know I was truly committed to those skills. And shit…she's got some tremendous skills of her own. I am a very lucky guy.
We beat the traffic out of Seattle late in the afternoon on that Friday and made it to Port Angeles by six thirty. My mom had dinner nearly ready and Emmett and Alice were already there. Rose and Jasper had left from school the day before to go their parents' home. They were going to Oregon to visit an aunt and uncle before Christmas and they wouldn't be back until Christmas Eve.
My mother wouldn't let Bella leave that evening without feeding her dinner. It worked out well anyway since her dad was working a later shift and wouldn't be home until midnight. Bella called her dad and let him she'd be home by eleven and I got a few more hours of my girl that Friday evening before she drove home to Forks. I hated that she was driving that old truck of hers so late at night but I made sure she called me when she got there safely. If she'd had any kind of problems I could always hop in the Volvo and get to her relatively quickly.
As planned, I showed up at her house on Sunday. Emmett and Alice were bored without Rose and Jasper, so they came along to Bella's for the day as well. We drove two cars though, since there wouldn't be enough room for all three of us to sleep on the couch and Em and Alice would be heading back home that night. Just because Emmett and Alice had to do without Rose and Jasper for a few days didn't mean I should go without some private time with my girl, so I was staying.
And what did we do for entertainment at Bella's? She put on some old Christmas CD's of her dad's and had us helping her bake Christmas cookies while we listened to carols and got in the mood for the holidays. She said she was sending some cookies to the Blacks, bringing the majority of them to our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and leaving the rest here for her dad.
The four of us sat in that tiny kitchen mixing batches of dough…well, and eating some of it when we couldn't control ourselves. It was actually pretty entertaining. We made batches of chocolate chip cookies, some powdered sugar coated little pecan ball cookies, some green sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees, decorated with little multi-colored sprinkles, and some gingerbread men, which Bella dubbed "Gingerbreadwards."
We were sitting around the kitchen table helping out and then things began deteriorating as we got towards the end and were working on those Gingerbreadwards. Emmett and I were acting like idiots, making Picasso-style Gingerbreadwards, with the facial features in rather random placement. Bella and Alice took over most of the decorating after that. Bella broke out the chocolate sprinkles and gave theGingerbreadwards hair that was supposed to look like my screwed up hair, but it was really the wrong color; it was way too dark.
When Emmett remarked that the hair looked like James' hair after he dyed it, Alice sprang into action with a vengeance and began snapping the heads off of the ones we had already baked and sprinkled. We all started laughing; Alice was cackling evilly by the time she had finished them off and showed those cookies who was boss. At that point, once they were headless, they were "Gingerdeadmen."
I think Bella wound up with at least a dozen and a half that had heads and looked normal. Emmett and I were happy, we were going to get to keep all the Gingerdeadmen to ourselves, and Alice sat there evilly gnawing on the broken Gingerheads. Bella said she was glad we had all helped, even though our helping probably made the entire activity last nearly twice as long as if Bella had worked on her own. We were proud of ourselves.
When Charlie got home from work he was surprised to see so many Cullens at his house. He had been expecting me but he'd got more than he'd bargained for. But he seemed okay with getting to know Alice and Emmett a little more. I wondered if he didn't maybe even like them more than me, but then again, Alice and Emmett weren't in a relationship with his daughter. He didn't have to be quite as concerned and cautious with them. I was the one who had the loaded gun, although I kept that thing holstered with the safety on while the Chief was around.
Charlie ordered pizza and offered sodas and beers that night. We all sat in the Chief's living room, watching a Seahawks game first, followed by a favorite cop show of his. Charlie and Emmett got into a big debate over who would make it to the Superbowl. I steered clear of that debate. I figured I'd look like a suck-up if I agreed with Charlie and I'd look like an ass if I disagreed with him. I just made a few general comments to show I was paying attention.
Alice and Bella disappeared upstairs for a while until nearly the end of the game. I wondered what they'd been up to until they came back downstairs once the game was over. I saw that Bella's hair was in two French braids and I knew Alice had been playing hairdresser. I smiled at my girl as she came and sat next to me on the couch and then I pulled on her pigtails just to bug her. She was awfully cute and she looked so young; I imagined her looking like that in junior high school. I wanted to kiss her, and maybe that's a pervy thing to say after thinking that she looked like a thirteen year old, but I would have wanted to kiss her if I was in junior high too, I decided.
Later that night, when Emmett and Alice headed back to Port Angeles and Charlie climbed the stairs to bed, Bella and I sat on the couch, watching a DVD. Really, all we did was cuddle up to each other and kiss and talk quietly and there was no actual nudity, but it was just such a nice quiet way to pass a few hours after all the commotion of Emmett and Alice on sugar highs and trying to make sure I didn't say the wrong thing about the Seahawks or football in general.
I stayed at Bella's the Sunday night before Christmas and left for Port Angeles late in the afternoon on Monday. I didn't see Bella again until late in the day on Wednesday, Christmas Eve. She'd driven to our house for Christmas Eve since Charlie would be on duty early the next day. He had taken the early Christmas Day shift to give the other men on his force the morning off to be with their families. Bella's dad really was a good guy, gruff, of course, and scary sometimes, but he had a kind heart beneath that taciturn exterior.
Bella would be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my family and then our plan was to go back to Forks together later on Christmas Day to have dinner with her dad when he got off work. We were suddenly thrust into that whole thing where there are two places you are supposed to be for a holiday and you have to work out how to be in both places together. We certainly didn't want to spend the holiday apart. But Charlie had been very understanding. I'm not sure if that isn't maybe another reason why he'd taken the shift that he had in the first place; it made things easier on Bella and me. I think Charlie just really wanted his daughter to be happy, first and foremost, and I could certainly relate to that.
We had a huge dinner early on Christmas Eve with my family. The Hales had just returned from their trip to Oregon, so they all came over as well; not just Rose and Jasper, but their parents too. My mom was on fire in the kitchen. She'd been making and baking food for days. It seemed she was expecting an army to show up and instead it was just the ten of us gathered around the dining room table stuffing ourselves like we might not get to eat for the remainder of the winter.
I think it took about five hours to eat all the courses she prepared. We'd pause between courses, washing dishes, sharing stories about Christmases when we were kids. I even played some Christmas Carols on the piano until Emmett started singing weird versions of some of the songs. We played some Christmas Trivia game Alice had printed up off of something she'd found on line. My mom really knew her Christmas Trivia and had us all beaten to hell.
After dessert Jasper and Rose's parents headed back home and the rest of us sat in the living room, full and barely able to move. According to Jasper, he and Rose were spending the night to have "a Very Cullen Christmas" the next morning before heading over to their parents' house with Emmett and Alice. Bella and I would head for Forks then and leave my parents to recuperate from all the festivities.
In the evening, after the Hales had left, my parents, Emmett, Rose, Alice, Jasper, Bella and I waddled out to the Hummer and went for a drive looking at homes decorated with Christmas lights. That was my mom's and Alice's idea, but Rose and Bella jumped on board quickly. All of us guys would have preferred to stay home and lie around digesting, watching TV, but we would have looked like idiots, my dad included, if we said no, so what could we do? Dad said it was a good way to earn points with the ladies and Mom winked at him. Emmett and I were grossed out. We'd caught that wink. We could guess how those points would be cashed in. You just don't want to think those thoughts about your parents.
Late in the evening we all headed to our separate rooms with our significant others and I was once again befuddled at having parents who didn't seem to care about the premarital sex that was obviously going on under their roof. But I think they knew it was safe, premarital sex and I got the feeling they sensed it would one day turn into "marital sex" for each of us couples. I could totally see my mom building an addition onto the house so she had plenty of room for us kids and her eventual grandkids to come stay for the holidays.
I could certainly see Emmett marrying Rose and Alice marrying Jasper and I felt hopeful about Bella and me, though we hadn't been together nearly as long as the others. Em and Rose had been together for over three years and Alice and Jasper were two years strong. I just couldn't imagine anyone else taking the place of Rose or Jasper for my siblings and I couldn't imagine myself wanting anyone besides Bella.
Christmas morning felt like a step back into childhood. We were all in our twenties and yet we were reduced to behaving like ten year olds as we sat there in our pajamas, excitedly unwrapping gifts, laughing and ooh-ing and aah-ing at the results.
My parents gave us kids a three-day ski trip to The Summit at Snoqualmie, for the December 31st, New Year's Eve, and New Years' Day. The reservations came complete with lift tickets for six and a condominium rental that slept eight. Obviously the intent was that we would bring Rose, Jasper and Bella. We could snowboard or ski all day and have a New Year's Eve celebration that would be safe and sane in the condo, no matter how much we drank to celebrate. Bella had never been snowboarding or skiing so that would be a real adventure. We all gave her a hard time about just how skillful she might not be. Alice volunteered to sit in the ski lodge and drink Kahlua and coffees with her until they got all drunk and caffeinated if things didn't go well.
For my parents' Christmas gift, we had all chipped in to pay for a two night stay at a Bed and Breakfast on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. The reservations were for the end of January; we figured that would give them enough time to plan accordingly with their jobs. Emmett, as the eldest, had taken it upon himself to take care of the reservations and had acted like he'd struck gold when he found the Lovejoy Inn and declared that Bed and Breakfast the winner, based on the name alone. We found out it was actually one of the top-rated B and B's in the area, so we agreed and let him have his off-color fun.
Some of the other gifts we'd exchanged for Christmas were couple-oriented gag-gifts. A few of them were rather hilarious.
Bella and I had bought a collection of Doctor Seuss books for Alice and Jasper. Which they immediately began reading. Bella and I were dying. My parents wondered why we would get them Dr. Seuss books and we had to politely explain how Jasper and Alice liked reading poetry to each other. Alice blushed furiously, looking mortified. Jasper looked proud yet baffled at Alice's reaction. We didn't bother elaborating on what they wore for their poetry readings. Or what they didn't wear. My parents didn't need the particulars.
Emmett and Rose gave me and Bella matching T-shirts. Bella's shirt proclaimed "I'm with the dork" across the front. It had a little pocket on the chest and an arrow across the stomach, pointing to where I would presumably be standing. My shirt was made to appear that I had put it on backwards…the little pocket was actually on the shoulder blade in back as were the words "I'm the dork." Very funny. And then there was discussion about how Bella calls me a dork and tells Alice and Rose I'm adorkable. My mother seemed to think that was really cute and she hugged Bella like she was proud of her.
"Just go with it, son," my dad encouraged, grinning at me as everyone laughed at my expense.
Alice and Jasper gave Emmett and Rose a box of toys they had labeled "Rainy Day Activities." Some of them were actual toys: a yo-yo, coloring books and crayons, a little balsa-wood airplane kit, watercolor paints, a paddle-ball, a jigsaw puzzle and a Rubik's cube. But mixed in with them were some other more risqué toys…a blindfold, some hot pink furry handcuffs, and a length of rope, all coiled up. I saw Rose flush a bit but my idiot brother immediately dove for the paddle-ball, yelling how awesome those things were and how he hadn't played with one in years. Rose looked relieved, to say the least.
It just got funnier when my mom leaned over, looking into the box, pointing and asked, "Are these handcuffs?" and my dad jokingly replied, "I'm surprised you have to ask, Esme, they're almost exactly like yours." At that point my mother yelped, "Carlisle!" tossed a throw pillow at my father, jumped up, and announced it was time for her to go make pancakes. She took her beet red face out to the kitchen and started banging around in the pots and pans. And my father? He actually guffawed. So now I know where Emmett gets it.
Bella and I had promised each other that we wouldn't spend much money on a pile of gifts for each other; that we'd try to do something creative instead.
When I unwrapped Bella's gift to me I saw that it was a jar, about half-filled with little slips of brightly colored paper, folded in half.
"What's this?" I asked, completely baffled as I opened up the jar, looking in and reaching for a slip of paper.
"They're all the reasons I love you," she'd said shyly, blushing all the while.
There was a collective, "Awwww…" from everyone as I smiled at her before glancing down at the little slip of paper I'd selected.
And then Emmett blurted, "You should have used a smaller jar, Bella."
She turned to him and shut him right down.
"I'm going to need more room for more reasons, Emmett. We've only known each other for four months. Besides, this is Edward we're talking about, not you." She ended that shut down by sticking her tongue out at him.
Rose fell backwards against the couch, laughing loudly at the expression on Emmett's face and Jasper high-fived Bella for not putting up with Emmett's shit. I slung my free arm around her and hugged her closer to me.
"What does it say?" Alice asked, peering in the direction of the little slip of blue paper I held in my hand. "What does Bella love about you?"
I looked down at the paper and cleared my throat.
"It says, 'You're not Emmett.'" And then I tucked the little slip back inside the jar and put the lid on it.
They all got a good laugh and I had saved Bella and myself from embarrassment, because the little slip actually said, 'You're an equal opportunity kind of lover.' I winked at her as I cradled my jar of love notes on my lap.
"Thank you, love. It's lovely." Bella smiled as I leaned over and kissed the top of her head.
My gift to Bella was a song I'd been working on occasionally in my spare time at school. It was a composition for the piano. I had managed to convince Angela Weber, who was a music major, to help finagle me some time in the piano practice rooms over at the music department so I could work on it without Bella knowing and play it so I could hear it aloud instead of just in my head. I'd had much of it in my head before I even sat down at the piano and started writing it out. Angela thought it was a very romantic thing for me to do. I'd played parts of it for her as well and she'd approved, surprised that I was so musical.
Bella had been a little confused when she unwrapped her gift and opened up the folder that protected the handwritten sheet music.
"A song?" she'd asked, looking up at me with that little "v" between her brows as she frowned. And then realization had dawned on her as she looked back down at the title, 'Loving Bella.' "You wrote me a song?"
I nodded, grinning at her.
"It's not done yet. It's a work in progress."
"Edward, that's amazing! I love it!"
"You haven't even heard it yet, Bella," I cautioned her with a smirk.
Rose piped up. "Bella, go get another slip of paper, you've got to add 'You wrote me a song' to Edward's jar."
Bella smiled up at me.
"She's right, you know. Will you play it for me?"
I did. I played what I had completed.
"How will it end?" she'd quietly asked me, as we sat cuddled together on the piano bench in our pajamas.
"I think you know. I know how I want it to end…it has no ending." I smiled at her.
She blushed as I leaned down and kissed her and took her left hand in mine, squeezing it meaningfully as she leaned into me. She knew what I meant. it all had to do with the night before.
At midnight the previous evening, on Christmas Eve, Bella and I had exchanged two other gifts in the quiet of my room. We had intended to not spend much money, and for the Christmas morning gifts, we hadn't spent any. But despite our best intentions we had both gone out and bought each other something more special anyway. So much for good intentions. I guess sometimes you just can't help yourself.
I was the one who started the whole midnight gift-giving thing. I couldn't wait until the morning with my real gift and I didn't want the rest of the family to be a part of it. Sure Bella could show them what I'd gotten her the next morning, but I just didn't want her unwrapping her gift while we all huddled around on the living room floor with everyone looking on like vultures. There was also something I wanted to tell her when she unwrapped that gift and I didn't want prying ears involved.
She'd asked if she could give me my gift first. I'd been agreeable. My gift to her was actually a gift to both of us, and I'd rather give that to her second.
Bella had bought me an antique-looking wristwatch. It was silver with a black leather band and it was quite dressy-looking, yet simple and classic. It was a gentleman's watch.
"Oh, wow, this is a beautiful watch, love. I don't own a nice watch."
"You do now." She smirked as she pointed that out to me. "Look on the back," Bella murmured.
I turned the watch over and realized there was an inscription. I looked carefully, reading the words: "If you tend to your love, there's no end to your love."
"That's beautiful, Bella. What's the quote from?"
She frowned. "It's from…me."
"Those are your words?" I asked in surprise. She nodded, looking slightly embarrassed but I just grinned broadly at her.
"This is so cool," I said as I examined the watch. I contemplated the gift and her words for a moment. I knew exactly what she was telling me.
"So, what you're saying is…If I keep the watch wound and take care of it, it won't stop. And if I take care of our relationship, I won't have to buy you flowers because I've screwed up, and you'll be willing to keep me for a long time to come?"
She giggled. "I think that pretty much sums things up. Do you really like it?"
"I love it. And I love you. Thank you, love."
I reached for the gift I had for Bella, picking it up and handing it to her.
"Your turn." I waggled my eyebrows at her.
"What is it?" she'd asked when I'd handed her the shirt-boxed-sized, gift-wrapped package as she sat cross-legged on my bed.
I rolled my eyes at her but grinned as I scooted up to sit right opposite her so that our knees were touching.
"Well, it's a gift. I'm not saying what's in it. That would ruin the surprise. You could sit here and wonder about it for a while, or…Bella…you could just open it and see for yourself. Take your pick." I smirked at her.
She reached around me and swatted my ass for making fun of her.
"You're such a dork, Edward! It's a legitimate question!" And then she began unwrapping it.
When she took the paper off and saw the box from the department store I watched as her brow creased. I had to bite my lip as she lifted the lid and her frown deepened. There was nothing in the box except for a lot of scrunched up tissue paper and another much smaller box in the center.
A jewelry box.
A ring box.
Her fingers started shaking and I quickly grabbed her hands in mine. She was making me feel nervous now and I didn't want her flipping out before I got a chance to explain.
"It's not what you're thinking, love…don't panic. I mean, it's kind of what you're thinking but not completely. Shit. I'm making this worse. Just open it before I say something stupid and ruin everything."
Her wide brown eyes were just looking at me. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. I realized I was holding my breath because she was holding her breath.
"Bella, open it."
She looked back down at the box in her hands and opened it with fumbling fingers, lifting the lid and looking inside.
"Oh, my gosh, Edward…"
I saw her swallow but she didn't finish her sentence. She looked up at me and her eyes looked a little glassy.
"…it's so beautiful," she murmured as she glanced back down at it in the box, touching the ring with a fingertip.
"Take it out, Bella," I urged, since she just sat there, stunned and barely breathing, looking at it.
"Holy crap, Edward, you spent way more on this than we agreed," she whispered as she took the ring out of the little box and looked at it more carefully.
The ring was made of 18 karat gold, with two dark blue oval lapis lazuli stones, nestled on either side of a flat gold "X." There were two small diamonds on the upper and lower portions of the "X" and I'd had a little bit of engraving done on the interior of the band.
"I want to tell you about this ring, Bella. You know about me and my flower symbolism." I paused and saw the little smile at the corners of her mouth; the slight nod of her head. "Well, I'm branching out her into gemstones and jewelry design."
Her smile broadened and she giggled as she looked at me with love. She knew me. She had to know I'd go for the symbolism. I gently took the ring from her to point a few things out.
"First of all, these blue stones, flecked with gold, are lapis lazuli. The Egyptians believed lapis lazuli had protective powers. I think that might be a helpful thing for you." She rolled her eyes at me. "And the ancient Greeks believed lapis lazuli foretold love that would be forever faithful."
She smiled and her eyes looked glassy once again.
"I also liked that the stones were ovals, separated by an "X" because that made me think of a kiss and two hugs. I liked that idea because when we kiss, we're joined together in really only one kiss, which we share, but there are two hugs which we give each other."
"I like that," she murmured, looking lovingly into my eyes and disregarding the ring for the moment.
"Look inside the band, I had it engraved." I showed her where her name had been engraved beneath the setting and my name faced it on the opposite side. Between our names, on both sides, was the word "and." This way you could read the inside inscription and it would say 'Edward and Bella and Edward and Bella,' endlessly.
"And when you put it on, you'll see that the inscription of my name is in the palm of your hand," I grinned at her, "right where you have me anyway."
She snickered at my insight.
"Oh, Edward… You've put so much thought into this." She moved up onto her knees and leaned forward, giving me a hug.
I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly for a moment, but I wasn't through. I pulled back a little, holding her body close to mine with one arm as I reached for her hand and the finger that would wear the ring.
"And the most important thing about this ring has to do with the two diamonds." I swallowed and I think Bella stopped breathing as she sat there with one hand threaded up into my hair. I took a deep breath and told her the real reason I'd bought this ring.
"This is a promise ring, Bella. We've known each other for less than four months, but I promise you, you are it for me. I know we're both still in college, it's just our junior year, we're young and there's a lot we still have to get through before our lives are settled into careers, but I know where I'm headed and I hope you're headed there with me. There are two tiny little diamonds on this ring, because someday, I promise, I want to give you a diamond ring that will mean that you're going to be mine always; I want to love you forever, Bella."
Halfway through my little speech I saw that Bella's eyes had unshed tears and as I continued the tears started trickling down her cheeks past her quivering lips. When I got the last few words out she clamped her hand over her mouth and was shaking with mostly-silent sobs. I was worried that maybe I had just made this my worst Christmas ever by jumping the gun, but then I realized she was clinging to me with her other hand and pulling herself up and over into my lap and so I just decided to make sure things were okay.
"I sure hope these are good tears, love. But I've got to be honest; I'm getting a little worried about the sobs."
She began laughing and crying simultaneously, wrapping her other arm around me and hugging me tightly. Her voice cracked as she replied.
"They're good tears, baby; the sobs too." She sniffed and wiped her hands across her face. "God, Edward, you really know how to overwhelm a girl." She smiled a shaky smile at me and I cupped her face in my hand.
"So, do you want to wear this? A promise ring…my promise to you?" I asked, still holding the ring in the fingers of one hand as I pushed her hair back from her wet, tear-stained, smiling face. She just looked so beautiful to me, tears and red nose and all as she nodded.
Her eyes shot to mine and her mouth dropped open in shock as the words left her lips; she was looking to see if I'd noticed. Of course I had. I'd just finish telling the girl I was planning on marrying her someday and the words 'I do' were already rolling around in my head. I grinned at her words and shrugged.
"Doesn't hurt to practice, love."
She giggled as I took her hand in mine and slid the promise ring on her finger. It fit perfectly. And then, with a great sigh of relief, and a profound and overwhelming feeling of love, I kissed the hell out of Isabella Marie Swan-Someday-Cullen.
She was going to be mine someday…for always…we'd just made that promise.
The (Happily Forever After) End!
A/N: Thank you for reading and for sticking with me for such a long ride. I hope you enjoyed and if so, I hope to hear from you. Heck, you can even let me know if you didn't enjoy the ride. LOL
I'm still planning to continue One Stupid Thing.
Meanwhile, for a good laugh, check out Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls.
Summary: New teacher and aspiring writer, Bella Swan, moves to Seattle. She finds fan-fiction-creation-inspiration in the enigmatic and surly playboy who lives in the upscale condo across from hers. As her newest on-line story begins to develop, so does a correspondence with a mysterious reader/reviewer of that story. Is it a co-worker? It's a case of art imitating life and life imitating art. A fan-fic story within a fan-fic story with all the canon usuals, lemons, laughs and love.