The Sandbox Presents: Anything Goes Under the Mistletoe

Author: Marie0912

Story Title: "In The Arms Of An Angel"

Rating: M

Vamp or Human: Human.

Number of Words: 7205 Ca.

Disclaimer: Twilight character names belong to Stephanie Meyer. All characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details belong to the respective author. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express written authorization.©2009 Marie0912 (Marie L. A.) All rights reserved worldwide.

All my love goes to the wonderful Sydney, AKA: romanticvamp11 for her support and Beta work and critical eye and patience with my corrupting and crude mouth;)
A special thanks and love to Claud_C who worked hard and made immense effort, gave moral support and a kick in the butt.

Please visit the Anything Goes Under The Mistletoe C2 to find more contest entries --


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"In the arms of an Angel"

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light," she sang, a smile in her voice and serenity in her face while she hung striped canes on the already over-decorated Christmas tree. "From now on our troubles will be out of sight."

She turned and looked at her love. He was watching, leaning against the doorway with a content smirk on his handsome face. She blushed crimson at the look in his eyes, the gleam of lust and love and want. After so many years, he still looked at her that way.

He walked slowly, deliberately over to the stereo and switched on Celine Dion's Christmas CD. He jumped to the track that meant the most to them both. "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" was its name, and he knew the lyrics like he knew her body; the rhythm of her heartbeats, the sound of her laughter and the feel of her lips.

"Don't get so busy that you miss, Giving just a little kiss, To the ones you love. Don't even wait a little while, To give them a little smile. A little is enough. How many people are crying? People are dying. How many people are asking for love? Don't save it all for Christmas Day, find a way to give a little love everyday. Don't save it all for Christmas Day. Find your way . . . 'Cause holidays have come and gone, but love lives on if you give on Love."

The glorious and breathtaking flow of his voice faded away as he stalked across the room towards her and grabbed at her hand, swinging her and spinning her around, engaging her in a dance. She playfully objected and they chased each other around the living room. Tinsel was thrown at each other as she cried out with glee and gasped for air through her laughter, and he grinned devilishly and hit the target every time.

They made a mess, and it was not until "I'm Your Angel" began playing that they stopped, out of breath and gazing at each other. The words spoke to their very souls.

She offered him her hand then, willingly for once, and he looked at it like she was giving him the world - which, truth be told, she was. She was his entire world.

Their eyes locked in a heated and loaded gaze as he twirled her slowly, dipping her expertly and moving in perfect rhythm with her two left feet.

The dancing lasted through "Brahms's Lullaby," but then "Christmas Eve" came on. The crackling tension of heat and attraction dissolved to the tune, which was essentially her favorite.
Perky, witty, Christmas-y . . . so entirely her. In every way.

"Walking with you in the winter snow, Kissing underneath the mistletoe, People smiling everywhere we go! It's Christmas Eve and they can see we're in love!" Celine recited enthusiastically, while his wife squealed loudly and began jumping around the room, tripping on various decorations on the floor and almost falling headfirst into the newly decorated Christmas tree. He laughed warmly at her display and grabbed her before she managed to knock the shrub down.

"Wait here. I have something for you, love!" he said, suddenly remembering. He ran out of the room, leaving her stunned and full of expectation.

He returned to her with a single, crimson red satin-covered box, holding it out for her to take. She gingerly removed it from his palm, her eyes big and full of wonder as she opened the lid with trembling hands and finally lifted out a single, midnight blue glass bulb.

A Christmas tree ornament.

On the front was painted by a careful and skilled hand, a single sprig of mistletoe in red and green. The back was inscribed with golden paint: "12.24.03. From now until forever, my love."

She nearly dropped it on sight.

Her hand trembled as she tried to hang it on the tree and his palm covered hers gingerly. Together they placed it on the strongest looking branch.

"Merry Christmas," he mouthed before kissing her softly. He tasted and teased her with a smile, reveling in happiness.

But she was not a patient woman, had in fact never been, and she gave him all but a minute of sensual, closed-mouthed kisses before she parted her lips and grabbed a hold of his hair, forcing him impossibly closer and teasing his bottom lip with her tongue. His eyelids fluttered closed, his breath sharp and labored as she blew on the wet traces of saliva. The cold sensation made his skin tickle with goose bumps and shocks of electricity shot down his spine. She pressed her body impossibly closer to his then, feeling his erection grow behind the ridiculous Rudolph flannel pajama pants and groaning at the feeling.

She could do this to him with a single kiss, a single breath. Still. It amazed her. She would never understand it; how, after so many years, she still held this power over his body. She still affected his mind and starred in his darkest fantasies.

The desire was undeniable as he growled, his eyes on fire with want and looking down at her with a predatory gleam.

She swallowed hard as she heard him panting. He reached for her buttons, popping open one after another without taking his eyes from hers. The heat in his gaze was enough to send liquid pooling in her underwear, a surprise she wore just for him. Now, of course, they were ruined, but she was quite confident he would appreciate the moist heat of her sex as much as the Santa Clause inspired panties she was wearing, complete with a ribbon to pull to unwrap his . . . gift.

She watched as he fell to his knees, his eyes finally leaving hers and eyeing the seam of her pants that ran down the middle right along with the zipper and disappeared between her legs. His expression was hungry and determined as he licked his lips slowly, dragging his wet tongue along the rose petal skin before suddenly grabbing a hold of her hips and dragging her closer to his now open mouth. He placed his lips against the seam of her jeans, right above her wet sex, and breathed hot, damp air against it, causing her to whimper and her knees to buckle.

Without a word spoken, without hesitation, he reached for the zipper and lowered it, flicking the button of the jeans open. He slowly dragged them down her legs, once again seeking eye contact and watched with delight as she blushed red.

She knew what he wanted to do to her.

"Lay down with me, love . . ." he whispered huskily, reaching for her hand and pulling her down to lie on the rug.

"So beautiful, yet so shy. . . . Still . . ." he mumbled as he admired her exposed chest and heaving breasts, her blush covering the delicate skin so perfectly.
He sat up on his knees and bent over her, hovering as he kept his body elevated by weighing it on one, strong hand while the other reached down to her face. He cupped her cheek gently, brushing his thumb over her blushing cheek and leant down to kiss her lips.

Soon he let his body cover hers, a finger tracing a single nipple, causing her to gasp into his open mouth.

"Please! Enough! Don't tease!" she begged, reaching down to pull his t-shirt over his head, wanting him naked and inside her.

"Always so impatient," he chuckled. He stilled her hands as she reached out and attempted to grab his erection while she used skillful, though not necessarily graceful feet and toes to push his pajama pants down his legs.

"Give it!" she whined petulantly, grumbling when he took both of her wrists in one hand and pushed them up and over her head, keeping her from what she wanted.

"Be still now, darling. Don't make me spank you!" he warned playfully and watched her eyes go wide with desire and mischief at the prospect. She snickered and began struggling pathetically against his hold while biting her lip and looking shyly up at him through her long, dark lashes.

"Oh, that is it!" he boomed in mock anger, flipping her easily on to her stomach. She giggled hysterically as he grabbed her wrists again, pushing them down to hold her in place. He sat up on his knees, stroking the flesh of her delectable behind with a strong hand.

"Naughty girl!" he growled. His hand came down without warning, a resounding smack of flesh against velvet-covered skin and the woman he loved whimpering at his roughness before letting out a loud and carefree laugh. She had barely felt a sting, knowing perfectly well that he would never be able to leave a mark on her skin. She was his everything, just as he was hers.

He slapped her a few more times and then flipped her over to her back again, kneeling in between her spread legs and eyeing the Santa Clause panties with a red satin bow on each hip.

"Ah. I think I'll unwrap my gift now."

He wriggled his eyebrows at her and she giggled at the mischief in his crooked smirk.

"Cocky!" she breathed delightedly, making him laugh at her attempt at a double entendre.

He reached out and pulled at one bow, watching gleefully as the ribbon slackened and fell apart, leaving one hip fabric-free. He bent down and licked at the skin, watching her squirm and writhe in passion, hearing her gasp with want. His tongue played over the sensitive skin, distracting her while his hand pulled at the ribbon on her other hip.

The bow fell apart once again and he grabbed hold of the flimsy fabric that covered her, pulling it away and throwing it behind him. They hit the Christmas tree, making all the ornaments jingle as they swayed at the impact. The panties were now hanging from a tall branch, right next to the glass-bulb he had bought her and causing laughter to erupt.

"God, how I love you," she sighed when they both calmed down. He rewarded her with a kiss where she had not expected it: right on her nether lips, far from her beautiful face.

She gasped loudly at the feel of his soft, wet mouth and hint of stubble against the skin of her sex, writhing and pleading in whispered, breathy moans. He didn't make her wait and never made her beg, yet she always did.

He used two nimble fingers to part her lips and leant down to breathe in the scent of her desire. Their eyes met as he flicked his tongue out, watching the fever in her gaze and the goose bumps spread across the flawless skin of her stomach, chest and thighs. He pressed his tongue to her clitoris, gentle as a feather at first, hearing her hiss and groan. He made a sudden firm sweep from her leaking entrance to the very top.

"Oh, oh, oh . . . shit. . ." she whispered, never one to swear but unable to help herself when he touched her like that.

He snickered delightedly at her expletive and continued his ministrations to the sound of her breathy moans, soon inserting two fingers at her opening. This caused her to buck against his hand violently, the intrusion not unwelcome, but highly unexpected. He gently nibbled at her while thrusting his fingers in and out in a quick, unrelenting rhythm that soon brought her to orgasm. Her inner walls gripped his fingers hard, but he knew her body well and kept them moving, riding her through her climax.

She thrashed and whimpered, biting her lip to keep from screaming and waking up their daughter. He pulled his fingers out of her body slowly when he felt the muscles inside her relax and licked them slowly while her eyes followed the motion. He wasted no more time, too worked up and turned on to stall any longer.

"I need you," he whispered as he rid himself of the pajama pants, freeing his erection from its confinements and grabbing a hold of her knees.

He pulled her closer so he could kiss her mouth while pushing into her slowly. She let out another delicious whimper and linked her arms around his strong neck, pulling him closer to her body. She felt his muscled chest against her breasts and swollen nipples, the friction against the sensitive flesh driving her to the edge again.

His thrusts were deep and slow at first, letting her feel every inch of him. He watched her eyes and face, loving the way her expressions gave away every emotion, wordlessly telling him what he was doing to her body.

He felt her inner muscles spasm again, contracting hard and knew that it was only a matter of a few more thrusts before she would come undone again. He placed one hand under her head, cupping it and lifted it so he could rest his chin on the crook of her neck and whisper in her ear.

"I love you. Forever, my wife. Forever," he promised and punctuated his sentence with a rough thrust that undid her.

She moaned long and hard, forgetting that the little one was sleeping upstairs and thrust back up against him, grabbing onto his shoulder for leverage and felt him lose control with a violent shudder of ecstasy.

They relaxed against each other then, their heart beats steadying and their breaths calming.

"Hmm," he murmured contently, wrapping his sweat-slicked body around hers with a satisfied and sleepy smile.

A small voice sounded from the hallway, igniting panic within them both.

They stared at each other for a second, horror on both their faces before they leapt up off the rug to find their clothes.

Small feet padded against the furnished hardwood floors, coming closer while they both rushed to button shirts and put the right leg into the right hole.

They made it just in time though, and a redheaded beauty stood before them in the doorway, little plush bunny in hand and rubbing her bright green eyes with the back of her palms.

"Momma, I heard noises," she whispered and walked towards her parents with outstretched hands, looking to be lifted up and held.

"Come here, Elizabeth," her father said gruffly, always a little overcome with emotion at the sight of his daughter. He lifted her up and kissed her head before tucking her beautiful little face under his chin and smelling her hair. Her mother walked over and stroked the girl's back gently, while staring into her husband's eyes with intensity.

Their eyes always glowed with the same message when their daughter was in the room or in their bed or even mentioned in passing: We made her. She's the best of both of us.

They glowed with pride for a few moments, basking in the Christmas spirit, love and the afterglow of hot sex, but were interrupted by a very observant four-year-old.

"Momma, why is there panties on the tree?"

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The next morning was hectic.

He rushed to the shower before she had even managed to rub the sleep out of her eyes. She headed down to the kitchen and made him coffee for his thermos cup since he would probably scald himself trying to drink it before running out the door.

While she waited for the coffee to brew, she walked out into the living room and reached into the box of remaining Christmas decorations, and pulled out the mistletoe. She smiled delightedly and made sure she could still hear him in the bathroom before she walked over to the entryway and hung it up.

He came down not a minute later, towel drying his hair and yawning violently.

"Here," she smiled and held out the thermos cup for him to take.

He looked surprised at first, but smiled warmly and leant down to kiss her on the forehead. She wrapped her arms around his neck and began nibbling playfully at his chin then.

"I gotta run, love," he sighed, letting his strong hands stroke up and down the skin of her forearms before bringing them to the back of his neck and loosening her hold.

He went for the door before she had the chance to recover, and was out, shutting it behind him in a matter of seconds. She looked forlornly at the mistletoe she had hung, pouting with disappointment and walked over to the door, opening it, wanting to see him off.

She watched as he jogged down the driveway, heading for the bus and heard the tires screeching as the slick ice on the pavement surprised an inexperienced driver.

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She was sleeping now. Finally.

Oh, how he hated these nights when she would cry until exhaustion finally won her over.

"I love you," he whispered, his longing lips ghosting over her forehead, his fingers itching to touch and hold her. But she turned her back to him and her tear-streaked cheeks faced the wall instead.

His hand shook as it lingered over her sleeping form before he pulled it back and took a stance at the end of the bed, just observing her. He counted her breaths, the rise and fall of her chest, the freckles on her nose, even though he already knew there were five there. He stared at her, like he always did, watching her change and age before his eyes, helpless to stop it and unable to join her.

"I'd give anything to touch you and hold you and comfort you in this moment, love," he confessed, watching yet another glistening tear slip from her closed eyelid and settle in her soft hair.

Just as if she had heard him.

"Come back," she whimpered in her sleep. She begged desperately, but no matter how much he wanted to, he never did. He never could. And once again a tear slipped from her eye, doing what he could not, but wanted to so badly. If only he could cry, vent, drain, release some pain!

But it was impossible.

"How long will you keep torturing yourself like this?" a gentle voice asked, half sympathetic and half exhausted, from the corner of her room.

"Leave me alone, Gabriel," he snapped, but then instantly cringed, afraid that he had been loud and woken her up.

Gabriel saw his reaction and chuckled lightly, shaking his head.

"Don't worry, you have not disturbed her sleep, son."

You can't, was the unspoken subtext to his statement, and it made his soul bleed.
"Please leave us alone, Gabriel," he begged without turning, his eyes glued to her upper body and chest, the sheets having fallen down off of her and uncovered what he had not seen in so long.

"I will leave you with her for now, but at some point you have to let go." It was spoken in a desperate and exhausted sigh. Gabriel was tired of failing.

"Yes, please leave now," he nodded absentmindedly and turned his complete attention towards the sleeping form on the bed once more.

The air in the room shifted once, the curtains fluttered and he knew Gabriel had gone.

"I can't leave yet," he confessed to her. "I'm not ready to let you go."

She turned restlessly, kicking the sheets off completely and called his name. Her voice, usually soothing as a steady heartbeat, now ripped through him like a lash from an unyielding whip.

"I'm here, love," he cooed at her.

She didn't settle down.

The snow fell gently, covering the ground outside, the cold seeping through the cracks in the sturdy house, and he watched in pain as she began to shiver, not bothering to stretch down for the blankets. As if she wanted to freeze.

"Please, please, please," he prayed silently and looked up towards the place he was trying so hard to avoid. If he was able, he would cry.


He turned fast and saw an adorable, redheaded girl in the doorway, her pink pajamas wrinkled from tossing in her sleep, a little bunny rabbit in her hand and her blanket in the other.

She began taking measured steps towards the bed and passed the angel in the room when she suddenly stopped and turned, facing in its direction with a frown. She looked and looked, as if not quite believing that the space beside her was empty. She reached her little hand out and waved into the nothingness, certain that she must be able to feel something if she just reached out far enough.

She felt nothing but the air, and it was cold. Realizing this, she turned to her mother once again, who was lying without covers and had goose bumps all over. She walked up to the bed and crawled in, grabbing the covers and covered her mother up.

His prayer had been answered.

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The light was blinding, pure and cold to his eyes as he gazed down beyond the clouds and found the white, snow-covered ground the earth was offering him.

"Are you ready, son?"

He turned to face the source of the soft voice behind him and found a gentle, smiling and understanding expression in the features of Gabriel's beautiful face.

With a sigh and eyes that prickled, along with agony in his heart, he reluctantly nodded and took the hand that was offered him.

"Will it ever stop hurting?" he wondered out loud as they slowly climbed the church steps and walked straight through the wooden doors as if they were not even there. They walked slowly up the aisle, Gabriel's face serene and peaceful as he viewed the agony before him and the coffin and the flowers.

Edward remained silent and impassive as they passed each bench, ignoring the faces to the best of his ability. They finally came to a stop by the coffin that held his human form.

"Pie Jesu, Pie Jesu,
Pie Jesu, Pie Jesu,
Qui tollis peccata mundi;
Dona eis requiem,
Dona eis requiem."

He sighed unhappily while the alter boys sang the saddest lament known to man, and tried desperately not to look at the faces that were sure to rip his heart apart. Their voices were haunting and beautiful, echoing off the walls in the acoustic church, resounding through the halls. It was painfully perfect, accompanied by tormented sobs from the woman in the front row.

They were low at first, but as the song continued on and the happy pictures, a tribute to his life and love flashed across the white projector screen, she couldn't contain her pain anymore. Anguished screams sounded throughout the church, barely muffled when she bit down on the intricately decorated program that held his name.

"Momma?" the little red haired girl whispered uncertainly as she placed a small and chubby, dimpled hand on her mother's thigh.
It angered and pained him that she had to learn of life's brutality and pain so early at the tender age of four.
He whimpered at the fear and confusion in her voice and finally let himself look in their direction.

She sought comfort in her mother's eyes. The sad music and pretty pictures and tears around her were scary and uncomfortable, but her mother pushed the little, hopeful hand away.

"No, Bella," he groaned, tortured and unable to reach them.

To Bella, the girl looked too much like him.
She couldn't look at Elizabeth yet. Not now. Not while his coffin was up there, not while the choir was singing and her heart was tearing and bleeding.

"Angus Dei, Angus Dei,
Angus Dei, Angus Dei,
Qui tollis peccata mundi;
Dona eis requiem,
Dona eis requiem.
Sempiternam, sempiternam requiem. "

The song came to an end and the church went silent just in time to capture the pain in the voice of Edward Cullen's baby girl.

"Momma, I'm sorry," she whispered, apologizing because it all felt like her fault

The doors flew open in that moment, an icy gust of winter air and snow blowing in.

"Edward!" Gabriel gently scolded and placed a calming hand on his shoulder. Edward didn't reply.

The mass continued while he stared at his loved ones, aching and hurting because of him. He stared at the love of his life and their daughter, dread filling his heart as he observed the emotional barrier that was already forming between them. Esme, the most wonderful mother and woman this world had ever seen, with a spot reserved in heaven for certain, was hiding her face and the unbearable pain in the fabric of her husband's tux coat. Jasper was biting on his knuckles, his eyes brimming with tears he was trying to fight off. Always so attuned to the emotions of others, he was fighting with all his might to keep a hold of himself for Alice's sake. She was staring straight ahead, her eyes empty and her face guilty as she took in the scene before her.

Edward looked for Emmett and Rosalie in the crowd and found them on the second row. Rosalie was looking anywhere but at the coffin and crucifix, her faith being selective and vague at best, but her pain was impossibly more tangible than Alice's. Rosalie hurt because she didn't believe in heaven or in an afterlife, she didn't believe in second chances. She made absolutes. And that left her with a guilt so consuming it was overwhelming. Their last conversation had been in anger, a sibling's quarrel and nothing unusual, but they always made up afterwards. Neither slept soundly until they had apologized and been forgiven. And Rosalie, so certain she had seen Edward for the last time, was feeling utterly hopeless as Emmett cried silently without hiding it.

The priest declared that it was time for the eulogy and Edward watched as Bella rose from her seat with longing. Her face was stained in tears, beautiful cheeks puffy and eyes full of loss and emptiness.

Her steps were dragging and shoulders hunched as she stepped up to the podium, standing right beside his human form and his ghost, longing and not even knowing how close she really was. She took a deep breath and turned to face the people in the church, looking at her daughter with pained eyes.

Edward walked over and stood beside her, wanting to feel her close to him one last time and dreading the words that would make it all final and real.

"He had the brightest, most intuitive eyes... They expressed every emotion; it was like reading a book. . ." Bella let herself laugh at the memory. "He saved lives for a living, he rescued people and put out fires. He was a hero," she stated with conviction. "We met at the Irish pub back in Port Angeles, years before either of us should be drinking." The people looking on laughed along with her this time, and Carlisle rolled his eyes and shook his head at the memory of his son's wild youth. "A man came up to me and offered me a drink. I was about to accept it when Edward stepped between us with a glass of Coke and a tight smile that was far from genuine."

She was truly laughing this time. The tears might be endlessly streaming down her face, but that night in the pub had been the highlight of their teen years. "'There you are, babe!' he said, not even knowing my name, and pushed the guy away, practically shoving the soda into my hand! 'You, little girl, are not old enough to be drinking!' he scolded me while the alcohol reeked from his own breath!"

Everyone was all smiles and tears now. And Edward smiled as well, because he wanted it that way. It was even more difficult to leave them behind crying, so when they laughed, they made the desperation in his heart lessen slightly.

"'Nether should you,' I retorted defiantly, making him smile. He loved a challenge and was about to impress and woo me to my knees when he started swaying, and then ran for the door to puke his guts out in the back alley!"

If it had been possible for angels to blush, Edward would surely have. Gabriel was smiling and shaking his head at him, and Edward averted his eyes to look down at his family, who were doing the same.

"I ran after him, of course, and found him slumped down on the wet pavement, crying of all things! I tried to console him, but he told me to go away because I shouldn't see him like that!" She snorted with laughter. "'You'll never love me if you see me puking and crying,' he sobbed! And I laughed so hard!" she confessed in a shaking voice, making the audience tense, a complete contradiction to the words she had spoken. "Because I had loved him since the moment he set foot in Forks Elementary School when we were eight years old. His family . . . our family," she corrected herself with a watery and apologetic look over at his parents and siblings, "had just moved into town, and that first day I saw him. . . ." She paused and took a deep breath. "I was staring like I had never even seen a boy before, and Victoria tripped me in the hallway. He came running up to me and helped me to my feet like the true gentleman his mother taught him to be. He wiped away my tears and I've loved him ever since."

She turned to face the coffin, her eyes pained and longing. The air shifted, people tensed and all traces of light humor was gone from her voice. "Liz looks too much like you. She barely even got to know her wonderful father. I---"

She took a deep breath and swallowed hard.

"You left," she accused in a strained and broken whisper that in spite of being weak and frail, carried across the room louder than a scream. "It's Christmas and you left us!" She wiped her eyes and took deep, calming breaths while Edward hurt for her.

"You walked out that morning and told me you would be home early, that you had gotten someone to cover half your shift." Her voice shook with strain. "You kissed me on the forehead and you let me hold you for a moment before you loosened my grip and ran out the door. I had hung mistletoe above the door. I was . . . going to demand a kiss before you left . . . but you ran before I even had the chance. I walked over to the door, wanting to see you safely on the bus . . . and was just in time to see you run out into the road without looking!" She wept and then turned to face the casket.

"How could I have known that . . . that was the last time I would kiss you and . . . have you in my arms on this side of Heaven's gates?" she asked. "I would have held you back, would have kissed you breathless . . . I would have told you I loved you a thousand times over! I would have never let you leave!"

Edward Cullen looked over at Gabriel with desperate eyes, but the angel shook his head with sorrow-filled eyes. No matter how much he wanted to, he could change nothing.

She bent down and kissed the cold lips on Edward's still face.
"I wanted to follow you, you know,"she confessed to him in the softest of voices. It was for his ears alone and Edward knew it. "If it wasn't for Elizabeth, I would have joined you the moment they declared you gone at the hospital. You promised me forever, Edward. You swore! Eight years. . . . It's not nearly enough! I honestly don't know how to live without you. You were my first love, my only love. . . . I'll never love that way again!"

She took a deep breath and held on to the wood of the coffin for dear life, before she whispered goodbye and walked to the front of the podium. "I never knew it was our last kiss. I never got to tell him I loved him one last time. I will always regret that. . . ." Yet another deep breath was needed before she finished. "Merry Christmas, Edward. There are just two things I need you to know: I will always love you, there will never be anyone else. And you will always be my hero. You left me . . . you left us all too soon, but I wouldn't change a thing. Not a single thing. . . ." She turned to look back at the coffin that held his body, placed a hand in her pocket discreetly and wrapped her hand around a sprig of mistletoe.

"Until heaven is no longer a barrier, my love," she whispered and blew him a kiss before walking down the stairs, straight through the angel standing there, watching and pining and aching for her. As she passed through him, she gasped in newfound longing and pain as Elizabeth rushed to her and hugged her knees.

Jasper rose and walked over to support her so she wouldn't collapse.
While everyone else was occupied with Bella, Elizabeth walked up to the podium and her father who laid there. She bent over the coffin to study his face, strange and familiar all at once. She stood, confused, watching him for a moment.

"Merry Christmas, Daddy. I know you are listening to me. You look like you are sleeping," she whispered in her sweetest voice. "Momma misses you so much."

She sighed and a tear slipped down her cheek, making Gabriel cringe and wrap his arms around Edward to hold him. "We never got to finish Guess How Much I Love You, you know," she accused with a cute little frown. She placed a hand on his cheek and leaned closer, kissing him lightly on the shoulder of his suit. "But it's okay. I already know how much I love you." She smiled. "And we can finish it in heaven," she promised him before walking away.

She walked down the aisle on unsteady feet. Her little black dress was itchy and her mother was crying and everything was so horrible.

Like animals, little children are drawn to serenity and calm, so Elizabeth headed for the one person in the room whose cheeks remained unstained with tears. She crawled up on the bench and leaned her head against her aunt's shoulder, finally letting herself cry. She had been brave for mommy and daddy, but now they were playing Celine Dion in the church. "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" sounded in the background and only made the people around her despair further.

"Don't get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss
To the ones you love
Don't even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough

How many people are crying
People are dying...
How many people are asking for love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on

"Auntie Alice?" Elizabeth whispered.
Alice looked down at her niece and cringed at the tears in the girl's face.

"What is it, Beth?" she asked gently, wiping at her cheeks with a gentle thumb.
"I asked Santa for Daddy for Christmas," she admitted, shamefaced and lost.
"Oh, Elizabeth!" Alice sobbed and wrapped her arms around the girl in a fierce hug.
She let her eyes wander then. People paid their last respects; she watched Bella cry and she watched her brother in the coffin, still, dead, gone. It was almost too much to bear.
Edward watched his sister as she finally let the tears go, her eyes unable to look at his body any longer. She shifted her gaze and let it fall to where Gabriel and Edward were standing, and a frown formed.
It was as if she saw something. Saw them?
"Edward!" she gasped and stood upright, shocked and trembling.
"Edward!" she screamed now, and waved for Jasper who was trying to calm her very distraught sister-in-law. Her husband turned and looked at her, a worried frown on his face.
"Alice?" Jasper spoke her name gently.
He sounded so far away.
"Alice?" he said her name again and Alice looked up at Jasper, who was no longer wearing the black tux.
He was wearing pajama pants.
"Jasper, why are you wearing pajama pants?" Alice mumbled groggily and rubbed her eyes.
He raised an eyebrow at her, looking confused and startled. "Because it's seven in the morning. You were sobbing and I thought I'd wake you. . . ." He trailed off, his expression worried. He didn't like it when she dreamt like that, he knew all too well what happened when she had dreams like that.
Her eyes went wide, her mouth went dry.
"Gimme the phone, Jazz!" she shrieked, causing him to jump.
He walked over to the nightstand and picked up his cell phone, handing it to her wordlessly. She scrolled down the list of contacts and found Edward's number on the screen, pressing the call button and crossing her fingers, praying, begging for him to pick up his phone.
And somehow, in this season of miracles, one was granted her.
"Hello? Alice?" he sounded sleepy like she had woken him up.
"Edward!" she whimpered.
"Alice, what's the matter?" he wanted to know.
"Edward, listen to me! Let Bella kiss you under the mistletoe! Let her, I don't care if you miss the bus, just do it! Please! Please, it's all I want for Christmas! I'll do anything, just please stay and let her kiss you under the damn mistletoe!" Her voice cracked with broken sobs that threatened to break Jasper's heart.
"Alice, please don't cry! Of course! I'll stay and let her kiss me. Sis, are you okay?" His voice not unaffected by her tears, it was shaking.
"I'll be fine if you do as I ask, Edward," she promised.
"Fine, okay, I'll do that. You tell Jasper I said hi, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'll do that," she nodded in agreement even though Edward couldn't see her.
"Okay. Love you, sis. Bye."

Edward hung up and Alice placed the phone on the nightstand with a shaking hand. She looked up at Jasper's calm, blue eyes and reached for him, silently asking for a hug. He wrapped his arms around her willingly, hugging her hard because she needed it, and kissed her head.
"What now, Al?" he whispered, his breath tickling her hair.
She sighed. "We wait."

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Edward placed the phone on the nightstand with a frown and looked over at his wife. She was still asleep and looking as beautiful as ever.
He pondered Alice's desperate wish while showering, feeling his stomach turn with unease as he remembered the tone of her voice, the tears and the desperation. He towel dried his hair absentmindedly, and wondered about the mistletoe she kept rambling about. Had Bella put up mistletoe? If so, where? When?
He shook his head and walked down the stairs, finding his wife awake at the bottom of it, a smile on her lips and a thermos of fresh coffee in her hand.
"Here," she smiled and held out the cup for Edward to take.

He smiled warmly and leant down to kiss her on the forehead. Bella wrapped her arms around his neck and began nibbling playfully at his chin then.

"I gotta run, love," he sighed, letting his strong hands stroke up and down the skin of her forearms before bringing them to the back of his neck and loosening her hold.

He went for the door before she had the chance to recover, but stopped dead when he saw the mistletoe hanging just above it.

"Let her kiss you under the mistletoe!"

He shook his head with laughter, looked at his watch and knew he would miss the bus, be late for his shift, and get in trouble with the boss . . . but he didn't care.
"Bella," he said as he turned to look at her expectant and flushed face. So beautiful.
"Yeah?" she bit her lip and blushed, still. After all these years.
"I'm standing under the mistletoe, love."

He pointed at the plant over his head. She rolled her eyes playfully, but skipped across the hardwood floor and threw her arms around him, knocking him into the door.

Their lips crashed together like they hadn't tasted each other for, days, weeks, even months. It was feverish, desperate, passionate. . . . They kissed with the wanton longing that lovers do when they realize forever is truly theirs to keep.
Across town, Alice smiled and cried in relief. Her nightmare was over, her husband in her arms, her brother safe and the season of miracles truly upon them.

And just outside Edward and Bella Cullen's home, an inexperienced driver skidded across slick pavement, the tires of his car screeching in protest as he passed their house and crashed into the neighbors' mailbox.

He cursed and swore as the tow truck brought his car to the shop, truly believing that someone up there was out to get him, never knowing that Gabriel stood by his side, chuckling and shaking his head.
Lives had been saved, both his and Edwards, and it seemed the man thought the chipped paint was too high a price to pay for every future Christmas that had been granted him.

I wish you all a happy Christmas; This is my gift to you.

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