A/N: This was written for the Haiti compilation put together by the wonderful MsKathy, with help from Manyafandom. To those of you that read it there, thanks for your donation! Hope you all enjoyed. We were told we could post a day early for the Grateful Project. I can't thank you all enough for reading, your kind words and alerts, make me happier then I could ever tell you. Now on with the story...
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Stephenie Meyers owns all.
That was all it had been.
We'd been together for six months, and I was freaking the fuck out as I stared at the ring. It was the one I had searched for relentlessly for weeks and finally found. I'd had it for three weeks now, and I was too chicken shit to ever bring the damn thing home, afraid Bella would find it. So every time I was at work, I would take it out of my locker, open it and try to get up the courage to ask.
I stared at it as if the diamond held all the answers I needed.
The worst for me was the three days we spent apart while I was on shift at the firehouse. We talked on the phone, but it was always late at night when the rest of the guys were asleep.
While we were apart, my mind raced with everything Bella. Every single date we'd had, every touch, every kiss ran through my mind. By the third day of being away from her on any given shift, I could almost feel her next to me.
I wanted to come up with some special way to ask her to marry me, but the whole ring in the champagne glass type of proposal wasn't my thing. I bought her flowers, opened her door, made her dinner, but I wasn't exactly a romantic type of guy. I was going to have to come up with something good for this, though.
I was screwed.
I ran my fingers over the band one more time before closing the lid and placing it in the back of my locker. I grabbed a towel, iPod, my shorts and t-shirt for bed. Luckily things were pretty quiet, and the other guys were either passed out or watching a movie. All I wanted was to take a shower and head to bed myself. My shift would finally end at eight the next morning, and I couldn't wait to see Bella.
I could never wait to see Bella.
I had a picture of us taped to the inside of my locker. It reminded me of the day I knew I had to have her as my wife.
I had convinced her to move in with me a month ago. I told her it would allow us to spend more time together, even if some of that time was asleep. We had reached the point of Bella staying over with me most nights I had off, anyway, but I wanted her with me every night. I wanted to know that she was in my bed, and on those days that we both didn't have to work, I wanted to stay in that bed, hold her next to me and never let her go.
To be honest, I had never wanted her to leave after the first time that we'd made love.
If I was being really honest, I had never wanted to let her go after the first moment I had laid eyes on her.
She was everything to me.
The fear of losing her was always in the back of my mind, and with me being a firefighter, I knew that for Bella, there was always the fear that something would happen to me. I tried to reassure her I was always safe and would come home to her. I knew that was not always a possibility, that something, anything, could happen to me.
I would sure as hell try to never let that happen.
My worry had always been that she would leave because of that fear, because I knew if she did, I would be devastated. One night, a week after she moved in, I responded to a really bad apartment fire. I would never forget that night as long as I lived...
I was leaning over her, trying to get her to breathe. I checked her pulse, nothing. I took my mask off and started CPR.
One, two, three, four...breathe.
One, two, three, four.
I took a big breath of oxygen from my mask before I brought my mouth to hers.
"Edward, do you read me? Come back," I knew the voice, but I just couldn't focus on it.
I had to keep going; I would not give up. I continued CPR, trying to pull the oxygen from my mask to give her better breaths.
"Edward, fuck man, you need to get out of there. We can't get the fire under control on the top floor. Shit, answer me, dammit!"
I could hear the words coming from my helmet. If he could just leave me the fuck alone, I could save her.
I had to save her.
"Edward, you promised Bella, you need to get out now! Please man."
I froze at his words, every cell in my body locked as I finally saw her lifeless form in front of me. My hands together on her breast bone. She looked so much like Bella, and I had to close my eyes and shake my head to keep from picturing her face.
He was right. I had promised Bella I would be safe, and dying in a fire from fear was not something I wanted to happen. I stepped away, put my helmet back on and took a deep breath before I responded.
"I found one," I finally choked out, "She didn't make it. I'm coming out now."
"Jesus Christ, you scared the shit out of me. I'll have someone ready to meet you out front."
It finally registered that it was Emmett on the other end, and I was pretty sure I would get shit later for not responding.
I could really care less about the consequences at the moment. I only wanted to get her out.
I pulled her into my arms and carried her through her front door and down the three flights of stairs.
When I pushed the front door open, I was met by the paramedics, their faces a blank slate as they took her from my hands and placed her on the gurney.
"I tried CPR. No response," I said, the words were stuck in my throat.
As soon as they turned to wheel her away, I made my way around a corner, removed my helmet and threw up until I was dry heaving.
The ride back to the station was a blur. Words were spoken; people did things. None of it mattered.
When we finally pulled into the firehouse, I jumped down from the truck and shed my gear. I skipped the shower, instead just grabbing my bag and heading to my truck. My shift was supposed to have been over hours ago, and the only thing that mattered to me right now was getting home to Bella.
Before I knew it, I was pulling into the driveway. I threw the truck in park and made my way to the front door. I focused on my shoes as I unlocked the it. When I finally had it open, I made my way inside and turned my attention to the couch.
Bella was curled up in a blanket, remote in one hand, tissue in the other as she focused on the television. At first, I thought she was watching a sad movie, but then I saw her rocking back and forth. That was when I heard the worst sound I had ever heard.
She was sobbing.
I looked to see what she was watching.
'The cause is unknown right now. All we know is that two firefighters had second and third degree burns and that there was one fatality.' I saw the fire chief giving a statement, and my stomach dropped, along with my bag.
The noise it made caused Bella's face to meet mine. Before I could move to her, she threw the blanket off her shoulders, dropped the tissue and remote and ran to me. Her arms flew around my neck while her legs wrapped around my waist.
God, she felt so good. I wrapped my arms tighter, pulling her even closer to me while I buried my face in her hair.
"You're okay. Oh my God, you're really okay," she sobbed against my neck. I could feel her wet tears against my skin.
"I'm here, baby. I'm okay."
I tried to reassure her I was fine as I rubbed her back and whispered how much I loved her against her ear.
After a few minutes, she finally calmed down and moved back to look at me.
"Don't you ever do that again, Edward Cullen. You promised you would call me..."
I grabbed her face in my hands and cut her off with a kiss. She moaned against my mouth when I placed my hands at her lower back, moving them over her ass and pulling her closer, if that was possible.
"I'm so sorry," I told her when I moved from her mouth and licked and bit along her neck, "I'm so fucking stupid."
"I know," she breathed. "I need you, please. I just can't right now, I just...make love to me."
Her soft hands moved to my waist, her fingers pulling on the fabric of my shirt until she had it far enough under my arms. I groaned as I slammed the door shut, pushing her against it so I could hold her up and pull the shirt over my head.
As soon as it was off, I had my mouth on hers again. She was wearing a shirt with buttons, so I made quick work of those and had it off of her easily. Her bra soon followed, and I held onto her before backing away from the door and walking to our room, never parting from her lips.
I gently laid her on our bed, removing her pants before stepping out of my sneakers and removing mine.
When I laid down next to her and pulled her to straddle me, I held her face in my hands.
"I love you so much," I told her, before I lined up and slowly entered her.
"I love you too, Edward."
I barely heard her, but I knew what she said.
We both found our release slowly, neither one of us really willing to part from the other.
We made love throughout the day, stopping once to take a shower, as the soot was still caked on my face from the fire, but Bella never seemed to mind.
We fell asleep in each other's arms that night, my arm wrapped tightly around her waist.
The nightmares started the next day, everytime I saw the young woman from the fire, her lifeless face turning to Bella's.
Every single time.
I broke away from the memory, shaking my head free from the thoughts it provoked.
The nightmares had been horrible, but only lasted a few weeks. When I would wake up, I would watch Bella sleep instead, and during that time, I realized that there would never be another woman for me. She was my other half, what I had been missing, the reason I needed to make sure I was safe.
I shut my locker and made my way to the shower room. Setting my iPod in the shower radio and turning it on shuffle, I turned on the water as hot as I could stand it.
I hung my towel on the hook next to the shower that I was using, placing my change of clothes on the bench, before I undressed.
I checked the water before stepping in, immediately letting the hot stream run over my back as I placed my hands on the wall in front of me.
I stared at the floor watching the water swirl around the drain. I wondered what Bella was doing. It was ten at night, so I was sure she was either in bed or maybe watching a movie. She always liked to fall asleep with something playing when I wasn't home. The other night I came home to Say Anything.
It was her favorite movie, and I wasn't surprised it was on since she made me watch it with her at least five times. She cried every time, and I had to keep a box of tissues handy for her spontaneous request to watch it.
I laughed to myself, remembering how cute she looked when I saw her passed out, tissue in one hand. She was sound asleep as I gave her a kiss, before I turned off the television and left the room. Before I made it out the door, I heard her mumble, 'I need you, Edward.'I needed her too.
The iPod shuffled to a new song, Only You Can Love Me This Way by Keith Urban.
As I listened to the words, I knew exactly how I wanted to ask her to be my wife.
Right after my shift ended, I was going to get everything ready. I wasn't willing to let any more time pass by without that ring on her finger.
I moved my head under the water, letting it cover my hair, and when I went to rinse my face, I heard someone behind me. Turning slowly, my breath caught in my throat as my mind struggled to believe my eyes.
Bella. Naked. Naked. Bella, at my work, in my shower room, naked.
I cleared my throat before letting out a choked, "Um, what are you...I mean, uh, hi."
She moved across the room, each step slower than the first.
"Hi," she whispered.
"Is everything alright?"
She had come to see me at the station before, but never naked, never in my shower. For lunch, yeah, but naked, no.
"I needed you."
She finally made it over to where I was standing, her fingers followed the paths of water over my shoulder, stopping right where my bunny trail ended. My stomach muscles flexed under her touch as she traced lines from hip bone to hip bone.
"I missed this," she whispered, her hands moving to lightly squeeze my already hard dick.
I was always ready for her. Just the sight of her fully clothed turned me on. Naked...well, that was a whole other story. 'Turned on' didn't come close to describing what she did to me.
"God, baby. I always need you."
I stopped her hand, grabbed her ass and pinned her against the wall.
"Edward, fuck...I need this."
She reached down, her hand squeezing me again as I roughly met her lips with mine.
My tongue met hers, and I groaned into her mouth as she pulled my bottom lip between her teeth.
There was nothing sweet about this. There was no time for foreplay, just the raw urge to be inside her...immediately.
When she pulled away from my mouth, and I saw her brown eyes, heard her shallow breaths, I knew she was ready.
I spit in my hand before reaching down and coating my dick, trying to block the water that was pouring over us from rinsing it off.
I checked with my hand to make sure she was wet, before I slid inside of her.
Luckily we had both been tested a few months ago, and she was on the pill. The last thing I wanted to do right now was put on a condom.
"Jesus, Bella. I need you so fucking much, always," I spoke against her ear.
I had to hold still for a minute to gain some slight form of control.
She was so warm and perfect, and every single time with her was like connecting to my other half.
I took a deep breath before grabbing her ass tighter with my left hand and bracing my right against the wall. The heels of her feet dug into the top of my ass, while her hands held onto the back of my neck.
Slowly, I started to move inside her. The leverage was incredible, and soon, I picked up a steady pace.
"Oh, God," she whimpered when I began moving faster. Her eyes were closed as she tilted her head back at an angle against the wall.
I could see the muscles in her neck tighten and release, and I tried to focus on that rather then how fucking incredible this felt.
My fingers gripped the grout lines of the tile as I shifted and entered her at a different angle, trying to find that spot that drove her insane. I began to pull out further before bringing her ass down onto my dick with more force.
I could feel the ache start, and I knew I was ready, but I would never go before she did.
I didn't know how I heard it between my own grunts and Bella's moans, but our song, You Are Mine by Mutemath, started playing. She must have heard it, too, because her eyes opened and connected with mine.
"You are mine, Bella," I groaned. "Nobody else but you."
There never would be another woman for me.
"I'm yours, nobody else but you," she moaned.
"Edward, I'm so close. Please, faster, harder."
I groaned as I did as she asked. When I knew she was right on the edge, I moved my mouth to her ear, pulling her lobe between my teeth and biting gently.
Her hands pulled harder on my hair as she fell apart around me. I knew she wanted to scream, but she kept it to low moans and pants while she squeezed and released my dick. Once she rode out her orgasm, I grabbed her hips with both hands with the top of her back against the wall.
It was my turn.
"Hang on," I groaned as she moved both of her hands to grip my arms.
I had the perfect angle to move one hand to her clit and continue the same pace. I didn't have to, but the feel of cumming while she was...there was nothing like it.
I moved my right hand to hold onto the front of her hip. I was fortunate enough to have long fingers, so I was able to reach my thumb to her clit while still having a good grip on her.
A few passes with my thumb and she started to moan louder as her back arched, pushing her beautiful breasts towards my face.
I couldn't resist taking one of her nipples in my mouth and flicked it fast and hard with my tongue.
"Edward, holy shit, oh God," she moaned a little louder then before.
As soon as I felt her squeeze and release my dick, I knew she was cumming again, and I let go.
I released her nipple and kissed her, part of me trying to muffle her screams and the other part wanted to be completely connected to her.
I groaned into her mouth while she moaned into mine, both of us trying to come down from our release together.
Once I felt her relax, I removed my lips from hers and slowly withdrew from her, before I helped her keep her balance as she stood up.
"Um, wow," she said as she leaned against the wall.
"Yeah, wow. Uh, why haven't we done that before?"
I was pretty sure this was in the top five or two of the best sex ever.
"I was just thinking the same thing," she said, smiling at me.
I couldn't help but smile right back.
We finished showering, both of us quiet as we helped to wash the other off. I wasn't looking forward to her leaving, and I didn't think she wanted to go either.
Once we were both dressed, we headed to the main room where the rest of the guys were. Both Jasper and Emmett were there and convinced me it was okay to leave, that they had it covered. They mentioned something about the new rookie, Mike, showing up earlier than he was supposed to. They'd told him he had to stay so they could show him the 'nighttime ropes'. I had no idea what the hell that was, but I was pretty sure it was just a good reason to fuck with him. I told Bella to go ahead of me, and I would meet her at home. I gave her a quick kiss and watched her leave, before I ran to my locker grabbed my bag and the ring.
On my way out, Emmett stopped me.
"So this is it, huh? You're finally gonna pop the question?"
He stood in front of me, arms crossed.
"Yup," I responded.
"You hurt her, and I will fucking kill you. You know that right?" Emmett practically growled at me.
I knew he was right, and if I ever did hurt her, he had every right to take me out. They were practically brother and sister. And it actually made me feel better to know if anything ever did happen to me, Emmett would look after her.
"You know better than that, and yes, I know you would kill me. I love her Emmett."
I moved to walk to the door but was stopped by a wall as he crushed me in a huge bear hug.
"I know you do, man. Good luck." He squeezed me even tighter.
"Can't breathe," I barely got out the words.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry," he laughed as he let go. He patted my shoulder before he smiled and let me by.
"Thanks Em," I replied, grabbing my bag and pushing the box in my pocket before telling the rest of the guys a quick goodnight.
On the way home, I remembered Bella saying something about meeting a friend for breakfast in the morning. It was the perfect time to get everything ready.
We both fell asleep shortly after walking in the door last night, and now I could hear her footsteps as she walked around the room getting ready to leave. I never opened my eyes, wanting her to believe I was still asleep. I felt her kiss my cheek and heard her whisper 'I love you', before I heard the front door open and close.
I pushed the covers off of me, ran to the window and watched her back out of the driveway. I took a quick shower and threw on the best suit I had, a green button down shirt, with a black jacket and slacks.
I set the camera on the tripod in the living room, before I set the timer and got in place right in the middle of the room near the front door. I was on one knee, ring in hand extended in front of me as the picture snapped. I ended up taking about four pictures before I got it right and ran to print it out.
While I was waiting, I grabbed the note that I had written last night while she was sleeping. I woke up around three in the morning, as thoughts and words racing in my head wouldn't let me sleep. Luckily they hit the paper easily...
I'm sure you have no idea why there is a letter with your name printed on it attached to the door. Let me explain...
I knew from the first moment I laid eyes on you that I had found the one thing I was missing. When I started spending more time with you, I realized you were it for me. Nobody could ever love me like you, and I could never love anyone like I love you.
You make me want to be a better man.
I know I would never be the same without you in my life. You filled a part of me that I never knew needed to be filled. You're everything to me, my lover, my best friend.
I want to spend the rest of my life walking with your hand in mine.
The picture finished printing, and I let it dry before writing on the back.
I placed the picture in an envelope, sealed it, before I added it to a larger envelope with the letter. I wrote Bella on the front and secured it to the front door.
All I had to do now was wait.
Forty-five minutes later, I heard a car door shut, and I ran to the window. She fumbled with her keys, before she stopped to look at the door. I got into place and heard the brush of paper against the door before the distinct sound of paper ripping open.
A minute later, I heard a second rip of paper and a small sob before the front door opened. I saw her face, and my heart stopped.
Tears stained her cheeks, the letter with my picture in one hand, her purse in the other while she just looked at me.
Her bottom lip was trembling.
It was now or never.
"Marry me, Bella?"
A/N: As always thanks to my beta Sparagus!