"My grandfather used to say that almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Then my Grammy would answer, "Yes, Poppa, everybody knows, almost doesn't count." It's true. Think about it. When is almost good enough?"

~Bella, Almost Doesn't Count


**Per the usual, I don't ask anyone to waste their time & beta this..So Beware you Grammar Nazis!**

(this picks up right in the middle of chapter 6 of ADC, the end of the day that Bella met Esme)

I picked up Ethan off the couch, careful not to wake him up and carried to his bedroom, then I went back downstairs and woke Mom to help her go to her bed.

Charlie had just drove by and picked up Bella.

The past two days we'd spent more time together than we ever had and I liked it. A lot. It was weird for me to had that heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach that I didn't want her to leave me - leave us. Even if it was just until tomorrow, but I knew that's what it was.

I didn't want her to go.

I trudged upstairs to my own room and fell on the bed face first, not even bothering with changing my clothes.

I wondered if Bella could ever see right through my actions? How sometimes I couldn't stop myself from reaching out and touching her. How my heart skipped a beat when I saw her interacting with Ethan. How I didn't always hold back when I hugged her because the desire to just hold her was often stronger than the need to stop.

I knew today would be a whirlwind of emotions. I knew that Bella meeting my mother would be the final test for me what type of woman she truly was.

What I wasn't prepared for, was that she was everything I though she'd be and more. She wasn't uncomfortable around the frailty of my mother. She looked at her with warmth, love, compassion, and awe. The exact same way I looked at my mother.

Bella fell into easy conversation with her as if they'd been friends their whole lives.

Then when I stood in that doorway and witnessed Bella's head resting in my mother's lap, my Mom fingering Bella's hair, my breath caught in my throat.

It was one heavenly sight to see and I almost didn't want to interrupt.

It seemed so right, Bella belonged with this family, with Ethan and I. It was also frightening. How could someone I was just getting to know already be such a part of me that I'd be incomplete without her?

Things shouldn't happen this fast. Feelings should take more time to develop, more time to be for sure - for certain.

It was too soon.

As we walked outside, I loved watching her admire the scenery around us. Our backyard was something I'd seen practically daily, but I realized over time, I lost the admiration of the simple beauty of nature.

I smiled when I thought about how Bella was definitely easy to please. Someone could offer her the world on a silver platter and there was no doubt in my mind that she wouldn't take it. Hell, she'd probably give it away.

I thought about our conversation in my car yesterday. Bella had opened up and told me about her failed marriage and how Mike cheated on her as often as the sun rose and as angry as I was I still felt guilty.

I knew it wasn't my fault that he was a dick head and had cheated on her. But to know that I'd seen him years ago with a different girl every night knowing he was still dating Bella, was like a blow to my gut. What if I'd spoke up and told her? What if back in the day I'd beat the living daylights out of him? Would it of changed things?

What about if I find him tomorrow and cut of his balls, would she care?

Bella deserved so much better than him and I wanted to be the kind of man that was worthy of someone like Bella. More importantly, I wanted to be worthy of her. For the most part, I think I was, I just had to prove it to her. We all weren't scum-bag-piece-of-shits like Mike Newton.

I was nervous when she began to ask me about my past love life. I wasn't sleeping around as much as I could have been, but I was no saint either. It was true that I hadn't brought anyone home to meet my parents since I'd graduated. That thought had never even crossed my mind until Bella.

Maybe it would be those little things that she'd pick up on. The sincerity of the way I felt and the person that I was, would show through in my actions a little at a time.

I wanted to spill it all right there on that swing about the past, about me in high school and watching her at Fork's Little Theater. How I knew that Mike was a cheating douche and that I didn't ever want to be sat on that pedestal my friends had placed me on. How none, and I mean not one single girl that I dated in high school or since had held a candle to the way she already made me feel.

But I remembered, it was too soon.

In time.

~*V*~

I was a little bit gun shy about meeting Bella's parents. I learned long ago that parents have n uncanny way of seeing right through you and picking up on things that weren't been to be known.

So should I try and act nonchalant about this whole meeting her parents thing? It was possible that they would see right through my more-than-friendly attitude.

Would they approve?

Maybe they just see my fawnings as a man who loves his soon-to-be-kid and not necessarily as also admiration for their only daughter.

It was wrong to be nervous about meeting her parents because I soon as Ethan and I meet them, there were nothing but welcoming to us.

Charlie was a simple man, very easy to talk to and hard to get a word in edge-wise. Renee cooed and cackled over Ethan, just like Esme did.

Bella looked as though she wanted to lock herself away in a closet and I couldn't help but think that was adorable. Then I felt less than manly because I was using words like adorable and cute way too often in my thoughts.

Bella mouthed 'I'm sorry' more than once while I shot the shit with her father. I shrugged her off because, in some strange way, I liked this. It was like family time. It was easy to pretend that we were married and I was visiting with my in laws.

And as I watched Ethan move away from Renee's lap on the couch and into Bella's, my knees felt weak.

He preferred her too! He found comfort in her lap just like I often found my future lingering in her dark eyes. How many more signs did I need to affirm her place in our lives?

His tiny fingers wove in and out of her hair, his posture slumped against hers, his head rested on her chest, and she cradled him as if she'd been doing it all her life.

I found myself radiating toward them sitting there. I was proud and blissful. I wanted to take a picture of them, frame it and hang it on my mantle.

Things to be treasured.

Bella looked up from Ethan, her eyes danced between all of us as she realized that we'd been watching her hold Ethan.

"Look Bella, he loves you like you're his mommy," Renee beamed and the look that crossed Bella's faced was one of mortification and embarrassment.

But I didn't want it to be.

I nodded my head and agreed with Renee, he did. Bella was the closest thing he had to a mother, he loved her already too.

If there was nothing else, nothing more that blossomed between Bella and I than friendship, that right there would be enough.

Ethan needed her as much, if not more, than I did.

"I can't wait for you to have your own children someday Bells. You will be a wonderful mother." Renee sighed.

"Please, you know how it is. Just don't." Bella said as she cowered behind Ethan. I saw the pink stain her cheeks and the tears as they pooled in her eyes. Once again, I felt compelled to whisk her away and protect her.

Instead I kneeled down beside her, steadied myself with my hand on her knee and squeezing it slightly so she'd look at me. "She's right you know. Someday you will be a wonderful mother."

Little did she know, Ethan and myself already thought she was.

~*V*~

Every day. Every day we spent together, I fell a little more and my feelings were only amplified and confirmed on the days spent we'd apart.

Bella.

Her just hanging out with Ethan and I was beyond words. It was never uncomfortable or unpleasant. It was actually kind of perfect and that feeling in my stomach, it was growing. I really didn't want to ever leave; my apartment, my side, or my life for that matter.

It was staggering.

I may had owed my life now to Jasper and Alice, because they'd invited Bella to Emmett's birthday party tomorrow night. I was going to pick her up and she was going to be my date. She might not have considered it as such, but there was no doubt in my mind that I did.

I had to convince her to let loose, not worry about Jasper holding it against her to have fun. Maybe buy her a round or two of drinks. I even wanted her to not be my lawyer for one night. Truth be told, I wanted more a lot more than that too, I wanted to see her laying in my bed again. The way the she did the other day when she napped with Ethan and I, but doing 'other' things besides sleeping.

I just wanted her.

I glanced over at the clock and rolled over trying to fall asleep.

Tomorrow was going to be a freaking fantastic day. I was finally taking Bella out on a date that was years in the making. I wanted it to be special, epic even, one she'd never forget.

"Never give up on someone who you can't go a day without thinking about." ~ Unknown


Sorry that this one was short & sweet. Next one will be THE DATE. Yep, the one most of you have asked for. The dancing, the singing, the walk to the car, the kiss at the door, * wiggles eyebrows* - it'll be a doozy!

Forgive me for the delay in updating, I'm trying to do better.

Also if you like ALMOST DOESN'T COUNT, I'll be contributing a outtake from it for FANDOM FOR PREEMIES, please donate.

The link is fandomforpreemies . blogspot . com. (remove spaces)

(I'm still happily shocked that people continue to read this!)

Til next time,

Review!

~Stacy

Twitter: Mrs_Robward