Duchess Michelle



http://www (.) fanfiction (.) net/~whosunderyourtree

There are two types of people that fall in love; those that believe in love and those that don't. Maybe the people that don't believe in it have just never experienced it, or maybe they've been pushed to the point of not believing in it anymore. Either way, they tend to push away opportunities for love and shut themselves off from meaningful relationships. Many people in the world are closed off from their emotions and no one even realizes it. These isolated people put up a good front, pretending to be just like the rest of us.

Most people believe that love exists because they've had loving parents, friends, and boyfriends or girlfriends. Others have faith in love simply because they can believe in something that can't be seen or touched but has to be felt.

How do you show someone that love exists and that they don't have to be afraid of it?

Edward Cullen was a normal guy, living in Seattle and working his way through medical school. His father was a doctor and he wanted to follow in his steps. Helping people was meaningful and Edward really enjoyed doing it. He gained a sense of purpose from working in the hospital. His father was proud of him, too, and that was something that was very important to Edward.

Carlisle Cullen had been a doctor for years, raising his family to be good people; the type of people who would help others. Edward and his siblings all did that. He was the first born and was in the final year of his internship; soon, he'd be a resident, a real doctor.

Being a doctor was time consuming, though, and it left little time for a social life. His life consisted of his shifts at the hospital. When he got a little time off, he usually went to the bar with some work friends or caught up on some sleep at home. He really didn't have a life outside of the hospital and he rarely even went home to see his parents. They missed him and always begged him to come home for the holidays, mostly his mother anyway. Although he missed Edward, Carlisle understood and even encouraged him to work hard. After all it had been their dream for Edward to become a doctor.

Eventually all of the Cullen children grew up and moved out. Jasper was the closest, just a few houses down from his parents. Edward was at the hospital in Seattle, and Emmett had managed to sign a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Rosalie was a model in LA and working all the time, but she did her best to make it home every so often. Alice was a teacher in Phoenix and managed to come home every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Edward rarely made it home for the holidays; he usually spent them at the hospital. Esme would often come to visit him the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas to bring him some leftovers. It was a perk of being a workaholic that only lived a few hours' drive from his parents.

Esme was used to having a doctor in the family who worked a little too much. Whenever someone needed Carlisle he went. It was one of the things she also loved about him. She didn't worry about Carlisle though, since he had managed to marry her and have a family. Edward, on the other hand, was alone, and she worried that he wasn't happy.

Esme had come to visit him the day after Thanksgiving this year and told him of her worries yet again. As usual he had brushed them off, telling her he was fine. He thought he was too. He loved his work, loved helping people. That didn't mean he wasn't lonely though.

He'd managed to have a girlfriend in college, but back then he had been pre-med. Med-school had been another ball game so to speak. He was busy and overworked and cranky. Tanya hadn't lasted long with that side of Edward. A part of him had loved her, but when she'd left him he'd felt relieved. His head told him that it wouldn't have worked out anyway, and his heart moved on, to his work.

Christmas was just a month away, and Edward wanted to be able to tell his mom that he was coming home for Christmas this year. He just didn't know if he'd be able to make it or not. Interns didn't have much of a say when they got days off or not. Since it was the final year of his internship, Edward took a leap of faith and asked his boss if he could have a few days off around Christmas this year. He was nervous as hell going into his boss's office, though, having no idea what she would say.

"Kate…," he said as he entered her office.

"Edward," she said with a surprised tone. "I didn't expect to see you today. What can I do for you?"

"Well," he fidgeted for a few seconds. "Actually, I wanted to see about getting a few days off for Christmas this year. It's just… it's been a while since I've been home and my mom—"

"Of course," she said calmly. As if it was no big deal, she turned back to the papers on her desk.

"Really?!?" Edward couldn't quite believe she was really giving him the time off.

"Yes, now, go. Work."

Without having to be told twice, Edward left Kate's office and got back to work. He was in a daze for a few minutes until a trauma came in. It was a drunken driving accident and the man had driven into a telephone pole, wrecking his car and breaking both of his legs. The holidays inevitably brought in more car accidents than any other time of year.

Christmas and New Year's were some of the worst. It happened and Edward had to deal with it. You had to deal with a lot when you worked in a hospital and it had hardened Edward a little. He'd never stopped believing in the good in people, though. That was something his mother had instilled in him.

When he went home after his shift that night, he called or e-mailed his brothers and sisters, hoping that they could keep the news of him coming home for Christmas a secret from their parents. He wanted to surprise them since it was such a rare occurrence for the whole family to be spending the holiday together.

Alice was the last on his list because he knew that she would be the most excited. Her excitement was even hard to contain sometimes

"Alice," Edward spoke quietly into his phone.

"Edward," she drawled, knowing that he had something to say.

"I just wanted to call to let you know I'm coming home for Christmas this year."

"Mhmm. What else?" she asked nonchalantly.

"Don't tell Mom and Dad," he said seriously.

"You want to surprise them." She said it as a statement instead of a question.

He caught her tone and was amazed at her ability to read him so easily. "Yeah," he admitted.

"Figures," she said dramatically.

He was quiet for a moment, unsure of what to say next. That's when Alice spoke up. "I know Mom will be happy to have you home." A second later she added, "I will too. We all will. It's been too long, Edward."

"I know Ali. It's just hard to get away. Maybe it'll get easier after the internship is done, but I don't know."

"It comes with the job. We all knew that when you went to med school. After all, we grew up with Dad coming in and out at all hours of the night. You just caught the bug at an early age and stood no chance." She laughed at the last part.

"Yeah, yeah…" He sighed. "Well, I gotta go, Ali. I'll talk to you soon."

"Love you," she told him before she hung up.

"Love you too," he whispered back and then hung up his phone.

Alice shared some of Edward's romantic ideals, but she wasn't as old fashioned as he was. Edward was probably one of the last romantics left. He believed in true love, and even love at first sight, even though he'd never experienced it himself. He didn't know if he'd ever find it, but he hoped that he would, once he could set aside the time to do so.

The days turned into weeks and before he knew it Christmas had arrived. Kate had kept her word and Edward was off the schedule for three days, December 24-26. He'd have to make up for lost time, but the three days off would be worth it. As far as he knew, his brothers and sisters had kept their word about not telling their parents that he was coming home. His mom had called a couple weeks ago and asked if he'd make it home, and he had told her that he was working and couldn't do it this year. He knew that it hurt her not to have him there with the others, but he hoped that actually coming home would make up for it.

Christmas Eve morning, Edward woke up and packed his bags. He ran a few errands in town before picking Emmett up. Then they went to the airport to pick up Alice before doing some last minute shopping. Alice had requested it, so Edward had caved. He would give her almost anything. Rosalie had flown in a few days ago and had had lunch with Edward and Emmett. They'd gone out to a casual café in downtown Seattle. It was amazing that Edward and Rosalie actually made conversation.

"Mom will be ecstatic that you're coming home," she told him.

"You haven't told her, have you?" he queried.

"No. I know it's a surprise. I wouldn't ruin it." She scowled at him, but Emmett broke the tension.

"Easy does it now, kids. We've all kept the secret Eddie. Now you just have to show up," Emmett teased.

"I will. Kate has me off on the schedule. I'll be there. In fact, Alice has already wrangled me into playing chauffer for her and a friend she's bringing home for the holiday."

"A friend?" Rose arched a brow.

"The pixie has friends?" Emmett asked, amused.

"Yes, it's one of her friends from work, some other teacher."

"Oh," was all Rose had answered.

When they arrived at the airport, Edward parked his car and they checked the arrivals board and maneuvered through the crowds to find Alice's gate. Her plane was still on time, which meant that they were just a few minutes early, so they waited for her outside her gate. When her plane started unloading, it took a while for Edward and Emmett to spot her. Naturally, she saw them first, bounding towards them and throwing her arms around first Emmett, then Edward.

"Hiya boys!" she exclaimed, kissing each of them on the cheek. When she stepped aside there was another brunette woman standing behind her, looking a little lost. "This is Bella," she said, introducing the woman.

Edward was stunned. She was gorgeous in an unusual way. She didn't have the same kind of unequivocal beauty that Rosalie did; this beauty was more subtle.

"This is Emmett," Alice introduced him first, and Edward watched the girl shake hands with his brother. "And this, is Edward," she said with a beaming smile. Edward offered his hand to her and she slipped hers into his.

The moment their skin touched Edward felt a surge of energy, something he'd never felt before. It sent tingles up his spine and through his body, making his hairs stand on end. Who was this girl? Woman, actually, because Edward could plainly see that she was no girl. She was a woman with a slightly curvy body, thin but not too thin, perfect fair skin, and striking brown eyes. The skin of her hand was smooth and soft, and he didn't want to let go, but when she pulled her hand out of his gently he relinquished his hold.

"Do you girls have other bags?" Emmett asked, his voice effectively pulling Edward out of his reverie.

"Nope," Alice answered as she picked up the two bags she had with her as carry on. "I just brought carry on because I knew I'd be taking more stuff back with me." She grinned and bounced excitedly. "So, you boys ready for Christmas?"

"Always," Emmett answered.

"It'll be nice to be home this year," Edward said, glancing sideways at Bella before focusing his gaze back in front of him.

The four of them moved back through the airport and outside where they put the girls' bags in Edward's car. There was enough trunk space in the Volvo to fit the few bags the girls had as well as the guys' bags. It even left a little trunk space, space Alice thought she could fill with shopping bags of course.

"Shopping time!" Alice crooned. Bella groaned and Emmett laughed his booming laugh because that was Ali. She'd go shopping anytime, day or night, and she didn't care if her cohorts wanted to go or not. "Hush Bella," she demanded. "You'll have fun. I promise." With that they all climbed into Edward's Volvo, the girls in the back seat and the guys in the front seats.

"Somehow, I really doubt that," Bella muttered as she climbed into the back seat.

Edward looked at her in the rearview mirror and smirked. She didn't seem like the type of friend one would assume Alice would make. Bella came off as sarcastic, cynical, and apparently, someone who didn't like to shop. Where did Alice find her?

"Alice said that you teach at the same school as she does in Phoenix. Is that right?" Edward asked, curiosity getting the better of him for the moment.

Bella quirked a brow, but nodded and said, "Yeah, we've actually known each other since college, though."

"That's cool," Emmett interjected. "What grade do you teach, Bella?"

"Kindergarten, same as Alice."

This, too, surprised Edward. She didn't seem like someone who would teach small children, but then, he was quickly discovering that she wasn't anything like what he would expect. The more he learned, the more he felt a pull towards her. It was something he'd never experienced before, but it was a pleasant feeling.

He turned his focus back to the road as the others continued talking about the holiday and shopping. When they'd been in high school he'd had to take Alice on several shopping trips. It wasn't his favorite thing to do. In fact, most of those trips he'd spent in the car or at a coffee shop reading a book just so he wouldn't have to deal with Alice's exuberance for shopping.

With Edward's over-the-speed-limit driving, they reached the Seattle mall in record time. Bella didn't seem to notice anything, thankfully. Everyone in the family had a need for speed, and Edward had certainly had his fair share of speeding tickets. However, all of the Cullens had some finesse, and Edward was the most practiced in the art of getting out of tickets.

Alice dragged Bella around to all the stores she wanted to visit and Bella let her for the first 10 or so stores. Edward just watched with slight amusement and barely contained curiosity. Emmett, on the other hand, didn't contain his amusement at the whole situation. Bella's obvious distaste for shopping was hilarious to him and he was laughing the whole time that he was trailing behind the girls.

"Bel-la!" Alice would say pointedly. "Come on!"

Somehow Bella never gave up fighting Alice every step of the way. Then again, Alice never gave up either. It appeared that Alice knew how to handle Bella and Bella just tried to fight off Alice.

"Alice!" Bella moaned petulantly. "Please stop," she begged.

"Not a chance. Come on, this'll be the last store we'll hit."

"Victoria's Secret?" Bella asked incredulously.

"Yep," Alice said excitedly.

Alice got excited over the smallest things and she usually dragged Bella along for the ride. Bella wasn't much of an excitable person, though. She never got googly eyed over a guy the way Alice did. She never jumped up and down when some guy called her back or asked for her number. She wasn't one to squeal over a sale at her favorite clothing store.

Spending so much time with Alice could become tiring. The excitement that seemed to run through Alice's veins just wore Bella out. Since she worked with kids, she had to put in a certain amount of excitement, but Bella thought that Alice overdid it sometimes.

Bella loved her job and she worked really hard to make sure that she did everything she could for her class. She'd always enjoyed working with children, babysitting and even working in a daycare facility through college. Somehow Bella found the right balance of excitement with her kids even though she never attained the same heights as Alice.

Isabella Swan had grown up in Phoenix, Arizona. She was a year older than Alice, and they'd met in college when they were both taking education courses. This wasn't the first year that Bella was invited to come back to Forks with Alice, but it was the first year that she accepted. Bella's parents were Charlie and Renee Swan and, to say the least, they were unhappily married. Renee felt like she was tied down by having had a family at a young age, but Charlie had been devoted so she stuck it out.

Because of her parents' unhappy marriage Bella was very cautious about entering into a relationship. As long as her parents were unhappy, Bella could never truly be happy. She tried to be. She spent a lot of time home alone while her mother was out taking some class to learn how to do one thing or another and her father was out at the bar. That's what her family was reduced to in her teen years. Her mother was easily bored and wanted to move to a new town to experience new things and reinvent herself yet again.

Charlie put up with it for a while, leaving his hometown of Forks, Washington when Bella was just a baby. From there they moved to Seattle, then Portland, San Diego, and finally Phoenix. Bella put her foot down when she was fourteen, and said she wanted to start and finish high school in one place. Her parents acquiesced and they stayed in Phoenix until Bella was 18 and Renee was too restless to stay anymore. Charlie finally gave up when he found out that Renee had a boyfriend on the side, some minor league baseball player named Phil. They got a divorce, and Renee went on the road with Phil, finally settling down with him in Jacksonville, Florida.

When Bella was in college, Renee had tried to keep in touch and even asked her to spend winter break in Jacksonville one year. Bella didn't go, though. She wanted to spend the holidays with her dad. Charlie was quiet and didn't bother Bella, exactly the way she liked it. Renee was the type to ask a bunch of questions and check on Bella because she wanted to feel like she was being a parent. Truth be told, neither her mom nor dad was much of a parent to her. She grew up quickly and learned how to take care of herself.

After Bella finished college, she moved back in with her dad, helping to take care of him when she wasn't working at the school. When Alice graduated the year after her and got a job as another kindergarten teacher at the school, Bella was happy. She was happier than she'd been in a while. The more time she spent with Alice, the more she was able to open up to the annoying little pixie. If being annoying was a talent, Alice had it down pat.

Alice always went back to Forks for the holidays and Bella always stayed in Phoenix with her dad. This year was different, though, because right after Thanksgiving Charlie had gone into the hospital with liver failure. All his years of drinking the pain of a failing marriage away had finally caught up with him. He'd done too much damage to be repaired and, while he had been sober for more than a year, they didn't find a liver in time to save him. Bella was crushed when her dad died and Alice did the only thing she could to help; she dragged Bella home with her for Christmas.

The last thing Bella wanted this year was to celebrate the holiday. All she really wanted to do was sit at home and be alone with her grief. Alice wouldn't let her, insisting that Bella couldn't spend Christmas alone. So Bella went, though it was under protest.

When Alice tried to drag her into Victoria's Secret, Bella put up a fuss, until people started staring. If Bella hated one thing, it was attention. She didn't like to be the center of it because she didn't want people to see through the façade that she put up every day. She was trying to function like a normal person, but trying to be happy at Christmas time was the least of her worries. Bella was just struggling to make it through the day, not to mention the holidays. Yet she was here with Alice and her brothers, being dragged into a lingerie shop despite her protests.

She tried to get out of it but Alice was immovable.

"You'll thank me when you land yourself a hottie," Alice answered without blinking.

"Pshyeah right." Bella caught Edward's eye as she walked through the door to the store. He waited outside the store with a look on his face that clearly illustrated amusement, and she thought she saw something else in his eyes. Before she analyzed it too much she turned away from his gaze and back to Alice, who was happily dragging her through the store.

"Don't make me push you into the dressing room to try this stuff on, because you know I will," Alice threatened as she handed Bella several items to try on.

"Fine." Bella turned and went to the dressing rooms. When she was in a room she took off her clothes and looked at what Alice had given her. Bras, thongs, and some little corset getup. "For fuck's sake! Is she for real?"

"I am, so don't even think about telling me you hate them all," Alice called back from the next stall. "You know I'll just buy them for you anyway. And I want to see what that corset looks like on you."

Bella couldn't argue with Alice when she got like this. Alice would just come over there and drag Bella out of the stall, or find some other way to make her try on the lingerie. And she really would buy the stuff for her if she put up a fight. So she just stayed quiet and tried on the bras. She had to admit that they did look good on her. She might have been a common B cup, but these bras made it look like she had a little bit more to work with.

She tried on the little corset getup last, and noticed that it had some cute little apron thing to cover her 'cookie', which was slightly unnerving. Bella had dated in college and she was no virgin, but it had been a while since she'd had sex. Dressing up in this made her feel a little uncomfortable; because she'd never gotten the impression that she was particularly good in the bedroom.

She took a deep breath and stepped out of her dressing room to show Alice the outfit. Just as her hand came up to knock on Alice's door Bella looked out beyond the dressing rooms to see Edward staring at her. The look on his face was unmistakable now. It was lust. Bella could feel her insides twisting and turning as a blush also crept over her exposed skin. She could feel the ache in her body, the desire burning inside of her. How could she not want him? He was hot, toned, beautiful really. There was only one problem: he was Alice's brother. Her older, yet incredibly attractive, brother, but her brother all the same and Bella didn't know what to do.

She didn't have to make a decision because Alice called out "You ready?" Edward was out of sight when Bella glanced back to where he'd previously been. Alice popped her head out of her stall when Bella knocked on her door. "Ok, you are totally hot in that. Turn around though; let me see all of it." Bella did as she was told and spun around for Alice. "Very hot. Meow!"

Bella couldn't help but giggle at that. No matter how depressed Bella got, Alice could always find a way to make her laugh. Alice was an optimist, someone who believed in the good of the world and the people in it. She believed in true love and that Bella would find the man of her dreams one day. Bella, on the other hand, was more of a pessimist, definitely a cynic, and certainly not a believer in true love.

Falling in love might not be a choice, but it was a sacrifice. To truly love someone you had to give up a piece of yourself and Bella had done that once, only to get her heart broken. Her mother had broken her heart with what she did to their family, but what really shaped Bella's outlook on falling in love had been her high school boyfriend.

She had been seventeen when she fell in love for the first time. He'd been a nice guy who went to her high school. They shared a few classes together, so when Nate asked her out, she said yes without hesitation. After dating for the majority of her senior year, they did the clichéd thing and had had sex on prom night. She'd thought she was in love with him, but the fact that their relationship fell apart after that night really hurt her. It made her realize that she'd been duped. Bella had always been a smart girl, so she didn't really understand how she'd fallen for his act.

Through college, Bella had dated here and there, but mostly she had had one night stands. She kept things simple and brief so as not to complicate her life or get hurt. In college that was easy enough to do, but now that she was working and she did more than just go to class and party, her sex life had fallen to the wayside. Alice was constantly trying to bring Bella out of her shell and meet someone new; to get her to come out to the bar and have a few drinks. Occasionally, Bella caved and went out with Alice, but she never took guys home. Before her dad had passed away, she hadn't wanted to bring a guy back to the house she shared with him, and afterwards she hadn't wanted to go out at all.

Alice was stubborn, though, and after they were done spending Christmas with her family, she planned on taking Bella out to Seattle to get laid. Twenty-six still felt young to Alice, so she wasn't worried about settling down with someone yet. She dated and kept boyfriends for 3 to 6 months before cutting them loose. None of them really meshed with her personality for longer than that.

They changed back into their regular clothes and bought their items from Vicky's before heading back to Edward's car. They managed to fit all of the shopping bags that Alice had acquired in Edward's trunk. Bella only had a few bags and had no trouble fitting those in the trunk with the rest of their things. Then they were off, headed back to Forks, only stopping for a quick bite at a fast food place on the way.

The drive to Forks didn't take long and Bella tried to enjoy the scenery when she wasn't being pulled into the conversation by Alice or Emmett. The conversation wasn't bad by any means, but Bella wasn't in a chatty mood. Edward mostly focused on the driving; only speaking when he had something to add to the conversation. Being left alone to watch the passing greenery made the 4 hour drive pass rather quickly for Bella.

The scenery was beautiful. Bella had been only a baby when her parents had left Forks, so she didn't remember anything. A part of her was afraid that someone would remember her parents, though. They'd grown up in the small town. They'd been high school sweethearts at Forks High and had gotten pregnant with Bella shortly after graduating. Charlie had been the good guy who asked Renee to marry him, the guy who just wanted to do the right thing.

As they drove through the town, Bella looked at the small town homes and businesses, all the while wondering where she had lived for the first year of her life. It was a simple white house that could only be described as small, yet the few pictures Bella had made it look like a home. She'd learned to walk in that house, even learned how to say her first word, and she couldn't even remember it.

She wondered what her life would have been like if they had stayed. Would she have been friends with the Cullens? She would've gone to Forks High with them and they seemed like nice people. Alice was certainly her best friend now and Bella couldn't imagine what she would do without her.

Bella was so distracted by her thoughts she hardly realized that the car had stopped in front of the Cullen house. When the others started getting out of the car, she got out to get her bags. She followed the others inside and was amazed at the inside of the house. It was gorgeous, vases of flowers, curtains, amazing furniture and artwork, and so much more. Everything about the house made it feel homey. Her home never felt like this, but that might have more to do with her parents' homemaking skills than anything else. Maybe she could get some tips from Alice's mom so she could fix up her place a little more nicely.

"Hi kids," came a sweet voice. When Bella looked up, she saw a stunning woman with almost the same bronze hair as Edward and the same dancing eyes as Alice. She hugged Edward, Alice, and Emmett, taking a moment longer on Edward as she told him how happy she was to have him home, and then she stood in front of Bella.

"This must be Bella. Alice has told us so much about you." Then she stepped forward and hugged Bella too. Bella wasn't used to hugs. She and Charlie rarely exchanged physical displays of affection, but somehow the woman's arms gave Bella some small sense of comfort. Maybe it was a mother's comfort, something Bella had never gotten from her own mother. "It's so nice to finally meet you," the woman said with a smile as she stepped back. "I'm Esme," she added.

"I'm Bella, although it seems you already know who I am." Bella gave a half smile, trying to make herself feel more comfortable. Esme was helping. She had a soothing presence about her that Bella liked immediately.

"Well, why don't you all get settled in before dinner," Esme suggested. "We've still got a few hours before your dad gets home so there's no rush. Bella, honey, there's a guest room on the third floor beside Edward's room. You make yourself right at home."

Bella gave her another soft smile before following the others upstairs. Alice and Emmett stopped on the second floor and went to their rooms while Bella continued to trail behind Edward, admiring his firm ass, as he showed her to her room.

"Here's your room," he told her in a low, husky voice. Her eyes met his and she wished that he didn't make her feel… what was this? Was this that googly feeling that Alice got about guys in the first few weeks of dating them? Bella had never felt like this about someone, not even Nate, and she had thought she was in love with him. Her college 'relationships' were all about sex rather than connections. This was certainly a connection. She could feel it buzzing through her entire body.

"Thanks," she mumbled, feeling the heat of her blush on her cheeks. She blushed easily, but around this guy it felt like she was doing it more frequently. She stepped past him and through the doorway of her room and took a moment to look around. She set her bags down and turned back to the doorway to see that Edward was still standing there. "Is there something else?"

"Just taking in the view," he answered. He flashed her, what his family and friends knew to be, his trademark crooked smile. He was taking in the view. She had soft curves, beautiful fair skin, lips that looked like they could keep him occupied for hours, and eyes with such personality. He was definitely attracted to her, the yearning in his body told him that even if his heart didn't. His heart, of all things, felt this woman tugging at it, and he'd only known her for a few hours. He didn't know how this could be happening, but he recognized it as one thing and one thing only: love at first sight.

"Take a picture, it'll last longer," she retorted, but there was an amused undertone. Instead of going into a stare-off with him, she turned back to her bags and started unpacking. She set her clothes on the bed to put away in the dresser later and then she took out her toiletries, and carried them into a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. There was a large Jacuzzi tub and a shower stall. It was large for a Jack-and-Jill. She had just put her things on the shelf when she looked at the other door that led to and from the bathroom. She wondered whose room was on the other side of it and, without giving it much thought, she slowly opened the door and decided to have a peek.

At first she didn't see much other than walls lined with bookshelves chock full of books. From her vantage point, she couldn't see what books were on the shelves, but whomever the room belonged to obviously liked to read. She saw a tall dresser, a desk with a laptop, and another wall of shelves filled with CDs. When she opened the door a little further, she noticed a large bed with simple dark blue bedding and a nice mahogany frame, and an entertainment system with an amazing stereo and a flat screen TV.

"You don't have to spy on me, you know."

Bella's eyes widened. "Sorry," she mumbled, "I didn't mean to…" When she turned to go back to the guest room Edward's hand reached for her arm and stopped her. How he got to her so fast she didn't know, but he effectively stopped her from leaving and pulled her further into his room.

"Don't go." His voice was soft, almost pleading, and he dropped her arm. She didn't know why, but she felt compelled to stay and so she did. She nodded her acquiescence and took a step into his room, sitting at his desk while he finished unpacking his things. They were both quiet for several minutes.

"I don't know why I did that," Edward finally admitted, breaking the silence. "I was just teasing you and then you were going to leave and…" He let out a heavy sigh and ran his hand through his already tousled hair. "And then I just didn't want you to go. I feel a pull towards you and I don't know what it is, but I want, no, I need to know." He was looking her in the eyes now, staring her down as he waited for her reaction.

Only hours ago he'd met this woman, and now he was, well, he didn't know what he was doing, but he wouldn't have been surprised if she ran away screaming. She didn't though; she stood and took a few steps toward him. He closed the gap and couldn't resist touching her face.

Instinctively, she leaned into his touch. What she felt was impossible. No one felt this way about a person they just met, and, besides, Bella didn't believe in this sort of thing. None of that stopped the feelings though, feelings of hope, a little bit of happiness, and maybe even love. Once again, silence fell between them as they just stared into the other's eyes, feeling their way though this.

"Do you feel it too?" she murmured.

"I do," he whispered, inching closer to her lips. He desperately wanted to kiss her, to taste her sweet pink lips.

"This is crazy," she said just before his lips pressed against hers. Her hands immediately traveled to his hair, tangling in it as the kiss deepened. In a matter of seconds it was careening out of control, both of them caressing each other's tongue with their own. They were lost in their own world when a knock to Bella's door in the next room brought them out of their haze. They were both gasping for air as they stepped away from each other.

"I better go. It sounds like Alice and she'll just barge in if I don't stop her," Bella said.

Edward nodded and watched her go, running his hand though his hair again. She looked back at him over her shoulder and gave him a small smile, a gesture that gave him some infinitesimal amount of hope. Then she was gone and he was left asking himself, "What am I doing?" He was making a move on his sister's best friend, a woman who lived nearly a thousand miles south of him.

In the next room, Bella answered her door just as Alice was saying "Bella, if you don't open this door…" Alice was obviously in a huff because Bella hadn't gotten to the door quickly enough.

When Alice arched a brow at her in question, Bella just shrugged her shoulders and said, "I was in the bathroom." Pausing to let Alice come into the room, Bella added "It's nice by the way. Everything is really nice."

Alice was practically bouncing up and down with excitement. "I knew you'd like it here."

"I do, but…"

"No buts. At all." Alice squashed any negative thing Bella could say with just a look. "Let's finish getting you unpacked. Then we can watch a movie or something. I think Jasper and Rose went into PA, so they should be home soon. I know they'll be back by dinner because Mom will be pissed if they aren't."

They continued talking as they worked on putting Bella's clothes in the dresser, even if she was only staying for a couple of weeks.

"Somehow your Mom doesn't strike me as the type to get pissed off," Bella stated simply.

"Well, she does occasionally, but only with certain things. Having a family dinner is always a big deal to Mom and it's been a couple years since we've had Edward home to do it, so she's going to be going all out this Christmas."

"Sounds nice." It was said under her breath, but Alice still caught it.

She didn't say anything though, and instead changed the subject. "Tonight will be dinner and then we'll each open one gift. It's something we've done every year, a family tradition. After that we'll be on our own, so we can go out to the bar if you want."

"That might be nice." Bella wasn't making any promises, but she knew that Alice wanted her to have a good time while she was here for the holiday. "I'll just have to see how tired I am. All that shopping kinda zapped me," she teased.

Alice hit her with a pillow and said, "Yeah right. You just use all your energy fighting me when you should just follow me."

"I am never joining the dark side Ali."

"Come on Bells, come over to the dark side. It's sooo much fun," Alice cooed, waving her hands at Bella in a dramatic fashion as if she was trying to put some hoodoo spell on her.

"No way!" Bella squealed, darting to the other side of the bed. Alice chased her for a few minutes, both being playful. Finally they stopped and plopped down on the bed, gasping for air amidst their laughter.

"Ok, I'm done," Bella sighed.

"Me too," Alice conceded.

"You two having fun?" Edward asked leaning in the bathroom doorway.

Alice nodded with her eyes closed as she continued to try to catch her breath. Bella on the other hand was left openly staring at Edward. It was not something she would usually let herself be caught doing. She snapped out of her reverie when she met Edward's eyes and saw that they were also on her. He mouthed 'later' to her and winked before retreating to his room again, leaving her to wonder what he was thinking.

"Come on, let's go pick out a movie." Alice got off of the bed and led the way downstairs to the den with a large flat screen TV and what Bella could only guess was a couple hundred DVDs. "Do you have a preference?" she asked, glancing at Bella.

Emmett came down and flopped on the couch with a "Something action packed!"

Alice just snickered and raised a brow to Bella in question. "Whatever is fine with me," Bella replied.

"Alright, Fast & Furious it is." Alice stuck the DVD into the player and sat on the couch with the remote in hand, waiting for the movie to start. "Edward! Get down here and watch this with us!" Alice yelled.

"Just a sec," his voice called back.

About halfway through the movie, Rose and Jasper came home and sat down with them. Apparently, everyone in the family liked to watch movies with fast cars as much as they like to drive them. . By the time the movie was over, Carlisle was home and Esme was calling them into the dining room for dinner.

The table looked impeccable and the food smelled delicious. Tonight was Mexican food, a family tradition to keep things simple before the big meal on Christmas Day. There were tacos, burritos, nachos, and enchiladas. All of it looked wonderful to Bella and she enjoyed everything about the meal.

The company was great and she wasn't lying when she told Alice later that she truly did have fun. Alice's family was, for lack of a better word, fun. They asked her a few questions during dinner, but they were never nosy about it. They were just genuinely interested in her, and it was a nice change for Bella.

After dinner, Carlisle helped Esme clean up the kitchen and told the kids to go out and have some fun. So they all decided to head out to the bar in town for a couple of drinks. They spent a couple hours at the bar throwing back a few drinks and playing a little pool before returning home.

Back at the house, they all sat around the fireplace and picked out one gift from under the tree. Bella sat back on the couch empty handed, thinking there wouldn't be anything for her under there. Alice surprised her by putting a small box in her lap. Her eyes were wide with question when Alice did that, but neither said anything. They went around and each opened their gifts. When they were done, they sat around the fire and told family stories for a little while.

At midnight Carlisle and Esme called it a night, and kissed their children goodnight on their foreheads. They even kissed Bella goodnight, already feeling that she was a part of the family. Slowly they were all getting tired. Alice and Rosalie went off to bed first, leaving Bella with the guys. Jasper left next and then Emmett went, leaving only Bella and Edward downstairs.

They sat in front of the fire talking for a little while longer, having another glass of wine, and slowly inching closer to each other on the couch. When they couldn't get any closer, Edward took the glass of wine from Bella's hand and set it on the coffee table with his. He took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly, making her turn to look at him. Not a word passed between them during the brief interaction.

Bella opened her mouth to say something, but Edward silenced her with a kiss, pressing her into the couch. His hands roamed up and down her sides, inching under her shirt. When she made no protest, he continued up her body until he was palming her breasts. She gasped into his mouth and arched into his touch, wanting more of everything she was feeling.

They moved their bodies so that Edward was lying on top of her on the couch, conveniently nestled between her legs. He rubbed his body against hers, making sure that she understood what she was doing to him. He was harder than he'd ever been, and this woman had done that to him. She pressed herself more firmly against him and moaned into the kiss they were sharing.

"Bella…," he groaned, sounding desperate.

"I want you," she told him. "I need you."

He kissed her again and stripped his shirt off, then moved to do the same to her. He started on her pants his fingers making quick work of the button. Taking the jeans off proved to be a little more trouble, and they moved to the floor next to the Christmas tree to have a little more room to work.

Once on the floor, he quickly pulled her jeans off, leaving her in a simple black cotton bra and panties that he couldn't have thought was any sexier. He made fast work of his own jeans and then moved back on top of her, kissing her again.

"Are you on the pill?" he asked quietly. She nodded and smiled, arching into him again. His eyes rolled back briefly and he whispered, "Thank God."

Her hands moved to his boxers and started slipping them past his hips, revealing his erection to her eyes. She tentatively reached out and wrapped her hand around him. He fit perfectly in her hand, as if he was made for her. He gasped and she smiled as she started to pump him tentatively.

"Christ, Bella!"

"Shh. We have to be quiet if we're going to do this down here," she said with a glint of mischief in her eyes, so he kissed her again.

While her hand was pumping him, he started to slide her panties down her body. She stopped her hand job to help him get her panties off and then she went ahead and took off her bra.

"Gorgeous," he murmured, looking at her in all her naked glory. She started pumping his cock again, and he slowly moved his hand down her chest, over her abdomen, and paused over the apex of her thighs. One finger moved between her folds, hesitantly sliding inside her heat.

"So wet," he whispered. She just kept pumping him until he was sure he wouldn't get the chance to be inside of her. Putting a hand on top of hers, he stopped her. There was a question in her eyes that didn't need to be spoken and he quickly reassured her, "I just want to be inside you." She blushed again, and he leaned in and captured her lips in another kiss. Her legs were already parted for him.

Taking his dick in his hand he guided it to her entrance, slowly moving inside of her to give them both time to adjust. He needed time so he didn't blow his load within the first 5 seconds like a virginal teen. He was a few inches in when she raised her hips and swallowed him whole. He was buried in her and trying to control himself, taking deep breaths so he didn't ruin it so soon. She waited patiently, but was thankful when he started moving, slowly sliding in and out of her.

"More," she told him, raising her hips to meet him. He followed whatever she asked of him, wanting to make it good for her. It quickly progressed from slow and easy to fast and hard.

As they were both nearing their climaxes, Edward moved his lips to Bella's again, swallowing her moans. He lost himself in the feel of her, so tight and warm. She fit all of him inside of her perfectly as if she was made for him. He never knew that a woman could be so perfect for him.

When her muscles started fluttering around him he tried to keep his orgasm at bay, but he couldn't fight it any longer. He felt her tighten around him and he exploded inside of her, thrusting hard a few more times as he unloaded. Her climax hit her hard, making her see stars, or maybe it was just the lights on the tree. She never knew. His forehead fell to her shoulder as they both tried to catch their breath. When he felt his dick start to soften inside of her, he pulled out and grabbed their clothes. They couldn't stay down here, but he hoped that she would come back to his room with him.

He kissed her again, slowly and full of meaning. Then he whispered "Merry Christmas Bella."

She smiled back at him and said "Merry Christmas Edward."

A/N: I'd like to thank my wonderful beta, IHateCleanBreaks. She's been very kind and helped me make this story better. This is my first o/s, and my first completed Twilight fic. I am currently working on another, longer Twilight fic, but I took it down so that my beta can help me edit it before I repost it. If you read it before I took it down, don't worry, it will be back.

Please review! I love hearing what my readers think. :) And don't forget to vote for your favorite story over at Who's Under Your Tree?

Merry Christmas guys & a happy New Year!!

xo Duchess