This was supposed to be out around Christmas, but I just couldn't quite get it…and myself…together in time.

Twilight and its characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer.

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Under The Mistletoe

Loneliness: a common emotion, shared by many. Throw in some alcohol and Christmas Eve and you have the most potent of cocktails, which is how I found myself at this little corner bar.

I was astounded to find it open, but the bartender told me they had tried it several years ago to good response. The owner decided to make it a tradition, opening his doors for those who might not have anyone to spend time with on a night customarily reserved for family and friends.

Though the people here tonight weren't close to me, we shared a common bond.

The bar wasn't too crowded, but enough people were milling about to make it comfortable. Christmas music blared overhead, a sparsely decorated tree graced one corner, and colorful, twinkling lights and sprigs of mistletoe hung above the bar.

I found a seat at the near end of the bar and ordered a beer before turning on my stool to survey the surroundings. It was actually quite festive, considering the circumstances. Some folks were in pairs, some were in small groups, and some, like me, were alone. Perhaps they were here because they didn't celebrate Christmas and just wanted a place to grab a drink and shoot some pool.

I picked up my beer and took a long swallow. Staring into the golden liquid, I thought about why I was here: a celebration of sorts.

Actually, it was a dissolution—of my marriage. Made official on Christmas Eve.

Obviously, I knew it was coming, but still, for it to happen on this particular day was shitty. I had no family in the area and no desire to visit those relatives who weren't. For the past seven years, Jane had been my whole life.

But I wasn't in love with her anymore; she had certainly killed those feelings over the past few years.

We met when we were young and it was love at first sight. She was a bit of a wild child; a free spirit, which did not sit well with my conservative parents. Words were exchanged, lines were drawn and feelings were hurt. The damage was irreparable, so we turned and ran without so much as a backward glance.

Our first few years together were blissful. We worked hard, played hard, and fucked even harder. I struggled to find a balance between work and college, while Jane tried her hand at a myriad of minimum-wage jobs. Money was tight, but we had each other.

The financial strain of trying to balance tuition, living expenses, and Jane's various "habits" began to take its toll. I was busting my ass, coming home tired and irritable; we began arguing. Jane started to stay out late with friends, sometimes not even bothering to come home. She became critical, shrewish, and cold; I withdrew and poured myself into school and work. When I came home unexpectedly one evening to find her blowing some guy on our couch while simultaneously getting fucked by another, I decided I'd had enough.

Still, it felt odd not to have her with me after being together for so long. Despite the fact that we had been separated for the past year, the finality of our break was sobering.

Ironic really, considering that I was preparing to consume a large amount of alcohol over the next few hours and sobriety was the farthest thing from my mind.

Draining my glass, I signaled the bartender for another round. As he walked to the center of the bar to fill my glass, I noticed her.

She was sitting by herself at the opposite end of the bar, illuminated by a blinking wreath propped against the wall beside her. The colors reflected off her long, dark hair and pale skin; the effect was mesmerizing. She was reading a book, in which she appeared to be totally engrossed. Pausing occasionally to sip her drink, I watched in fascination as she licked her lips following each taste. I couldn't help but imagine how those plump lips would feel around my dick.

After a few minutes of stealing glances at her, I concluded that she was alone this evening. How a woman as lovely as she could be by herself tonight puzzled me, but I certainly wasn't going to complain. Perhaps she wouldn't mind a bit of company…

I tried to remember the last time I had been with a woman. In the first months of my separation, I remained celibate, too emotionally drained even to want to be with someone intimately. Eventually, my physical needs won out; self-love could only take one so far.

Random hook-ups became my salvation. The last thing I wanted was to jump into another exclusive relationship. What I did want was to fuck.

And fuck I did.

For a few months, it felt great. I had no regrets and it helped me through a rough patch of my life. But the desire eventually waned and the hook-ups became few and far between.

Something was missing.

Shaking my head, I returned to the present and glanced over at the dark-haired beauty. When she stood up and walked across the room, presumably to go to the restroom, I allowed my gaze to travel the length of her body. She was stunning, with perfectly sized breasts, long legs and curvaceous hips. I shamelessly ogled her ass as she walked away, feeling that familiar stirring in my groin.

I wondered what brought her to this place tonight and whether she was as lonely as I was. I decided to find out for myself.

On her return, I didn't hide the fact that I was staring at her. She spotted me, but quickly looked away and continued on to her seat.

Once there, she downed the rest of her drink before flagging the bartender for another. She glanced over at me and I smiled, hoping like hell I didn't seem creepy. When she rewarded me with a shy smile, it damn near brought me to my knees.

Emboldened by alcohol and figuring I had nothing to lose, I grabbed my beer and started toward her.

"Hi, um, I was wondering if you might like a little company this evening? No woman as beautiful as you should be drinking alone on Christmas Eve."

I shot her a wary look, not wanting to believe I had just delivered that horrendous line.

She grinned and said, "How do you know I'm not Jewish? Or that I'm alone, for that matter?"

She had me. "Touché. I'll be going now; I'm late for my sensitivity-training class, and…"

She laughed, putting her hand on my arm to stop me from slinking away.

"Please have a seat. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist teasing you. That really was an awful pick-up line, you know."

I sat down next to her. "It should be me apologizing. I really wasn't trying to pick you up. I saw you sitting here and thought it might be nice to engage in some friendly conversation for a change."

"The conversations you engage in are usually of the hostile variety?"

"Lately, they have been."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Thank you. Things are looking up, though." I smiled at her and she blushed.

"I'm Edward, by the way." I reached out to shake her hand.

"Oh god, where are my manners? Bella… my name is Bella." Her hand slipped into mine and I had to suppress the urge to pull it toward me and wrap it around my waist.

"Nice to meet you, Bella."

"Nice to meet you, Edward."

"So Bella," I said, "you never did tell me why you are here tonight."

"I was on my way home from work and saw the pretty lights and the 'open' sign, so I decided to pop in and check it out," she answered.

"Where do you work?" I inquired.

"I work in the laboratory at Mercy Hospital. I was supposed to work until 11:00 pm, but it was a bit slow, so I was able to cut out a few hours early."

"That sounds like an interesting profession. Are you a researcher?"

"No, I work in the clinical laboratory. I run chemical tests on blood, urine, and various other body fluids. I also draw blood from patients when it gets busy on the floors."

"Kind of like a medical vampire?" I joked.

She groaned. "Edward, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that line, I would be a very wealthy woman right now, enjoying this pomegranate martini on my own private beach in the Caribbean instead of this dreary bar in the suburbs."

"I think it looks rather cheery tonight." I gestured at our surroundings. "Besides, if you were in the Caribbean, you would be missing out on the pleasure of my company."

"True," she noted, her eyes bright with amusement.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't resist teasing you," I smirked, echoing her earlier words. "Just promise that you won't bite me?"

"Only if you want me to," she teased, lowering her head and peeking at me through her insanely long lashes.

Well, that certainly got my dick's attention.

"I wouldn't be opposed to that," I admitted, my eyes boring into hers.

We stared at each other in silence for a few moments; the physical attraction between us was painfully obvious. I had never felt so drawn to a woman before… not even Jane.

Bella spoke first. "You never told me what brought you here this evening."

I chuckled wryly. "Truthfully? My divorce was finalized today and I felt the need to celebrate."

"Oh, Edward, I'm so very sorry to hear that, truly I am," she said sincerely, reaching out to rest her hand on my knee.

"Thank you. It's okay, really. Things between us had been bad for a long time. We were very young when we got married."

The bartender approached and asked if were ready for another round. Bella nodded her head, and while waiting for our drinks, we noticed that some of the patrons were dancing. The Pretenders' version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" had just started to play, so I seized my opportunity.

"Bella, would you like to dance with me?" I asked.

"I would love to dance with you, Edward," she answered quietly.

Taking her hand, I led her to the middle of the room. We turned to face each other, and I placed my hand on her waist as she rested hers on my shoulder. Our free hands connected and we started to move. I kept a respectable distance, even though my body was screaming to pull her flush against me.

She smelled fantastic, like citrus and vanilla, and I desperately wanted to bury my face in her hair. I couldn't take my eyes off her, but unfortunately, she didn't respond in kind; in fact, Bella seemed to be deep in thought, her eyes fixed on some distant point over my shoulder.

We continued to sway silently in time with the music, and the song came to an end much too soon. Breaking apart, I placed my hand on the small of her back, guiding her to our seats.

"Thank you for the dance, Edward," she said. "I can't remember the last time I had such a lovely evening."

"You're welcome, Bella. I feel the same way."

We were sitting very close to each other now. Reaching out, I tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear, pulling my fingers down the entire strand until they reached her collarbone. Bella closed her eyes while I ghosted my hand along its length, lingering on the hollow of her throat. I reached up to cup her chin, and just as I was preparing to lean in and kiss her, she broke the silence with two words I wasn't expecting to hear.

"I'm married."

Oh.

I took a breath to speak, but she continued.

"But not happily..."

Instinctively, I reached for her left hand, quickly noting the absence of any rings.

"…and I'm lonely."

She sighed before glancing at the display of lights above our heads. The corners of her mouth twisted into a wry smile and she shook her head incredulously. I followed her gaze and found the cause of her disbelief: a single sprig of mistletoe was balanced precariously between two bulbs, positioned perfectly between us.

Bella reached and plucked the piece of plastic greenery from the cord, turning it over repeatedly in her fingers. She studied it intently for a few moments, eyes brimming with tears. When she spoke, her voice was laced with sadness.

"I miss being held. I miss being loved and desired. I miss…" She stifled a sob.

My heart ached for this beautiful, sweet, and intelligent woman. She was so different from the other women in whose arms I had previously found solace. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and protect her. I wanted to prevent her from ever feeling undesired again. I wanted… no, I needed to show her how she should be treated.

Placing my hands on her thighs, I leaned into her and whispered, "Let me show you. I want to show you how a woman as beautiful as you deserves to be loved."

She blinked away her tears and studied me intensely for a few seconds. With a flick of her hair and a determined jut of her chin, she picked up her drink and gulped it down. She pressed her lips to my ear and breathed, "I think I would like that very much."

I pulled back to stare at her, searching her face for uncertainty. Closing her eyes, she reached around my neck with one hand and pulled me in gently, while the other still clutched the mistletoe.

"Merry Christmas, Edward."

"Merry Christmas, Bella."

Lips touching and moving, tongues swirling and exploring, hands stroking and caressing—this was how I was introduced to the world of Bella. I never wanted to leave.

Finally breaking apart, I asked if she wanted to go someplace else. She nodded, grabbing her purse before excusing herself to the ladies' room. I decided to visit the restroom myself, then waited for her in the hallway when I finished.

When she emerged, I took her hand and led her outside to our cars. Her place was obviously out of the question, and mine was simply too far away, so I suggested a motel that was a few blocks down the road. Not the classiest of settings for a Christmas Eve tryst, but we were both too needy to care.

Bella drove herself and waited in her car while I secured a room. I flashed her a smile as I returned to my car, key in hand. We drove a short distance and parked our cars in front of Room 106. I reached into the glove compartment and shoved a few condoms into my pocket, relieved to find some remaining from the full box I had stashed there months ago. My body buzzing with anticipation, I opened her car door and helped her out. She gave me a shy smile that made my cock twitch, and I threw my arm around her shoulder before leading her into the room.

The moment she took off her coat, I pinned her against the wall, dragging my open lips across her neck, alternating between kissing and sucking her soft skin.

She twisted her fingers in my hair, pulling me closer. I couldn't help but push my hips into hers, groaning at the contact.

When she suddenly stiffened, I immediately pulled away.

"Bella, hey, look at me. What's wrong?"

She looked down at the floor, her hair a curtain around her face. I cupped her chin, pulling it up so I could look into her eyes.

What I saw there was uncertainty. She was second-guessing this, and I certainly hadn't helped matters by attacking her as soon as we were alone. I was mortified.

"God, Bella, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to be so forward, I just…"

"Edward," she interrupted, "it's okay. I'm not afraid of you. Though I don't know you at all, somehow I feel safe with you."

Then it hit me. She was afraid—not of me, but of what we were about to do. Of all people, I should have realized this, but I'd been too caught up in my own desires to think clearly.

"We don't have to do this," I said softly, reaching out to stroke her silky hair.

She looked so conflicted; it was a feeling I knew well. Predictable, lonely and miserable as it might be, her life was comfortable and familiar. We were on the verge of something else entirely.

Be gentle, I thought, wanting her to feel safe with me.

She relaxed a bit, but still seemed somewhat tentative.

"This is just insane," she said. "I mean, I don't really know you. I don't usually do this kind of stuff."

She wants you to show her. Be gentle, I repeated to myself.

"What kind of stuff would that be?" I inquired, slowly closing the distance between us.

"Well, uh, you know… this." She waved her hand between us, raising her eyebrows.

Standing in front of her, I gently placed my hands on her shoulders and slowly slid them down her arms, finally resting them on her hips.

She put her hands on my chest, in what seemed like a defensive posture. My eyes searched hers, seeking silent permission to proceed, and when her gaze settled on my mouth and her tongue darted out to moisten her lips, I continued on.

"You mean this?" I leaned in slowly, lightly pressing my lips to hers. Once, twice.

She closed her eyes and let out the slightest of moans. "I don't even know what you like."

Kissing her again, I moved my lips against hers, coaxing them into gliding with mine. Her hands slid up around my neck.

"I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread." I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her against me, relishing how soft and warm she was.

She grinned against my lips and kissed me a little harder, her tongue sneaking out to lick my bottom lip. "I like homemade Nutella on cinnamon-raisin bread." She pushed against me and ground her hips into mine.

Unbuttoning her blouse, I said, "I like to sit around on Sundays in the fall and watch football."

She reached for the hem of my shirt and tugged it up and over my shoulders. "I like to curl up in a chair by a fire with a cup of tea and a good mystery book."

Grazing my nose against her jaw, I moved my lips along her neck, down to the hollow between her collarbones. "I like playing my piano." Reaching around to unclasp her bra, I watched as she slipped it from her shoulders. I bent my head and licked her nipple. Once, twice.

She gasped and arched her back. "I like the smell of rain on warm summer nights."

Popping the button of her jeans, I slid the zipper down. She did the same with mine, eyes locked, breathing labored, hands exploring. She ran the backs of her fingers along my erection before squeezing it through my boxers. Once, twice.

I backed her up until her legs hit the bed. She fell backward and I tumbled with her, relishing the skin-to-skin contact. Our kisses continued to be slow and sensual, the tension building and swelling, like an ocean wave preparing to crash violently onto the shore.

We shed the last of our clothes until we were finally naked and rubbing against each other, lost in the friction of hard against soft.

Slipping on a condom, I parted her thighs and slid forward along her wetness. She moaned and began to move with me, the sensation fucking amazing.

"I like the color green," she whispered, gazing into my eyes, breathing heavily.

"I like the color brown," I replied, running my hands through her soft hair, continuing to slide against her, drawing it out until I couldn't take it anymore.

"And I like you," I whispered as I finally pushed into her.

Physically, I knew what to expect. Once I was inside her, she would be wet and warm and tight and it would feel incredible. But that was an understatement; earth-shattering, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring were the words that came to mind.

What I wasn't expecting was the way my breath caught as she dug her fingers into my back, the way my heart beat a little faster as she wrapped her legs around me and pulled me in deeper, or the way my groin throbbed as she knit her brows together, eyes frantically searching mine, moaning my name as she came. Nor was I prepared for the intensity of my own orgasm as it poured out of me.

Collapsing beside her, I discarded the condom and pulled her against me, still needing to feel her close to me. She nestled her head against my shoulder, her warm breath fanning my neck as her fingers lazily swirled around my chest and her legs entwined with mine. I felt so damn comfortable with this woman—not only physically, but emotionally as well. In the realm of one-night stands, this was certainly a first for me.

Bella lifted her head to look at me. "Wow. That was… extraordinary. I can honestly say that sex has never been that intense for me."

"Yes, well, I have been told that many times be–" I stopped speaking when she hit me with a pillow.

"Someone appears to have quite the big head, doesn't he?"

"Well, now that you mention it," I boasted, reaching down to grab myself.

"Honestly, Edward," she groaned, rolling her eyes.

Laughing, she buried her face in my chest while I ran my fingers through her hair. I was so utterly content at this moment, yet buzzing with energy. The only detail that reined in full-blown euphoria was the fact that she was married. I mentally cursed the irony that I'd just had the most amazing sexual encounter of my life with a woman who was, for all intents and purposes, unable to be with me in the way I wanted. Pushing that thought to the back of my mind, I refused to let it spoil what little time I might have left with her.

"Edward?"

"Mmmm?" I mumbled in response. Turning to face her, I noticed her furrowed brow and the way she was biting her bottom lip. Reaching over, I gently tugged on that plump lip, releasing it from between her teeth before replacing them with my mouth.

"Edward," she moaned between my increasingly ardent kisses, "you started to tell me about why you and your wife split up, but then we got distracted."

I broke away from her and rolled onto my back, running my fingers through my hair and letting out a long sigh.

"People change. Sometimes it isn't always for the better," I said. "We were young and thought love would conquer all. Reality and all of its day-to-day pressures eventually set in. I was ready to grow up and she wasn't. Living with her was like riding an emotional rollercoaster… and believe me, it was far from thrilling."

She took my hand, squeezing it in a gesture of understanding.

"She nagged and criticized me constantly. I could never do anything right. The lawn was never cut short enough. The laundry was never folded correctly. No matter what I did, nothing was ever fucking good enough." Not wanting to make her feel more guilty than she already might, I decided not to tell her about Jane's unfaithfulness.

She lay on her back, staring blankly at the ceiling. When she spoke, her voice was devoid of emotion.

"He ignores me. He dismisses my attempts at intimacy and blames his inability to maintain an erection on the fact that I am not as toned as I used to be."

"He actually said that to you?" I propped myself up on my elbow and looked down at her.

"Yes. It did wonders for my self-esteem."

Her voice wavered a bit. I took her face in my hands. "I think you are beautiful. You're soft and warm and curvy, just like a woman should be." I moved my hand to her stomach, idly tracing her name on the smooth flesh. Leaning in, I gently kissed below her navel, nuzzling my nose against the soft skin. I slowly inched my way up her body, my mouth never losing contact with her softness, her warmth, her rounded shape. My lips lingered on her breasts, my tongue caressed her nipples, and my teeth nipped at her throat.

When I reached her face, I kissed away the tears that stained her cheeks. I grabbed the foil packet from the nightstand and she sat up and rolled the condom down my length. Laying her down, I laced my fingers through hers and brought our hands up above her head. With our foreheads pressed together and our lips barely touching, I entered her slowly, almost reverently, trying to show her just how truly exquisite I found her to be.

No words were necessary as we settled into a slow and sensual rhythm. We spoke through whispers and moans, through caresses and soul-baring gazes. She came with a wordless cry—I never felt so alive in all my life. Lust overtook me and I fucked her through her orgasm, grunting out my own release moments later.

Lowering myself to her side, I rested my head on her chest, listening to the rhythm of her heart while she feathered her fingers across my back. We lay silently for a while, neither of us wanting to acknowledge the inevitable. She sighed and lifted herself off the bed, reaching for her clothes. I sat up and watched her, my stomach clenching at the thought of her going back to him.

After she dressed, she stood at the end of the bed.

"I realize this might sound a bit crass, but thank you. I… I… " She struggled to find words.

I held up my hand to stop her. "Will I see you again?" In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to further explore this powerful connection we seemed to share.

By the way she looked at me, I knew what her answer would be.

"I don't think so." She sighed. "I know that I'm going to be wracked with guilt when I walk out of this room. It's time for me to confront my problems, not run away from them."

I nodded in understanding.

Walking over to me, she reached out and touched my cheek. I took her hand and placed a searing kiss into her palm. "Don't go," I begged, shocked at the level of desperation in my voice.

"I'm sorry," she choked out, pulling her hand away. With a weak smile, she turned and walked out of the room, taking the light and warmth with her. The door clicked shut and I was alone.

I lay back down and stared at the lamp on the nightstand. It had been sporadically flickering all night, lending an almost-frenetic atmosphere to our lovemaking. But now it had dimmed and the flickering had ebbed. I continued to watch the light fade until finally, with one final spasm, it went out. For the second time tonight, I found myself alone in the dark.

___

Christmas came and went with little fanfare. I spent New Year's Eve at the same bar, hoping like hell she would show up. She didn't, of course, and I ended up going home early, not interested in witnessing the happy celebrations of others.

Days turned into weeks. I plodded along, working, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV, going to bed, waking up and starting all over again. Sometimes I would head out to a bar or club with some guys from work, occasionally finding a pretty girl who was willing to fuck me in the backseat of my car. But it was always her body I envisioned pushing down into the soft leather seats, always her fingers digging into me, urging me on, always her sweet voice crying out in climax.

I wondered where she was, how she was, if she was still with him. I felt more empty and lost than I had ever thought possible, all because of that one brief evening with Bella.

Bella… hell, I didn't even know her last name. Consumed by the memory of our time together, I knew I needed to move on from this hopeless obsession. Time, I convinced myself, was the only remedy.

One warm and rainy evening in late July, I found myself heading uptown to check out a new pub that had recently opened. I walked through the door and found myself a seat in a cozy corner booth. Once I had placed my order, I scanned the room, taking in the friendly ambience. My eyes wandered to the bar area, and that was when I saw her.

Bella.

My breath caught in my throat… she was every bit as beautiful as I remembered. She appeared to be alone, so after a few seconds of internal debate, I slid from my seat and walked over to the bar. Standing behind her, I leaned in and whispered her name.

She jumped slightly and turned to face me. Her eyes opened wide with surprise.

"Oh my god. Edward. It's you."

"I'd just ordered some dinner," I gestured to the corner, "and I saw you sitting here. I thought I would come over to say hello. How have you been?"

"I've been well, thank you. And you?"

So formal, I thought sadly.

"Great, just great," I replied.

Liar, my mind screamed.

An awkward silence followed. She fidgeted with her empty glass and kept looking toward the door, as if she was expecting someone. When she turned around to order another drink, I decided to forego the forced pleasantries and get straight to the point.

I pressed against her lightly. She whimpered and leaned back into me ever so slightly. "Bella," I murmured, speaking directly into her ear. "I miss you. I haven't been able to stop thinking of our time together. I think about how you felt under me, how perfectly we fit together, the feel of your lips, the taste of your skin, the smell of your hair, the look in your eyes as you came. I've never felt anything so incredible in my life. Please tell me you felt it too."

"Edward." She sighed and turned to face me. "You made me feel wanted and desirable when I needed it most. Yes, it was amazing and I will always remember you, but what I did was wrong. Mike and I have been trying to work things out. I owe him and our marriage that much. I am meeting him here… in fact, he should be here any moment. Please understand," she implored.

I nodded; she didn't sound very convincing, but I wasn't going to argue with her. I had to accept her decision and move on.

"I understand. I hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable, but I'm not sorry for what we did, nor for what I just said. Anyway, it was great to see you again and I hope you find what you are looking for."

Leaning in, I kissed her forehead, lingering for a few seconds to commit her scent and the feel of her skin to memory.

Don't walk away; don't let her go a second time, I tried to persuade myself.

But I did walk away, back to my lonely booth and dinner for one.

I slid back in and noticed that my food had arrived, but I no longer had an appetite.

Throwing a wad of cash on the table, I stood to leave, allowing myself one last glance at Bella. She watched me and gave me a half-hearted smile. I almost ran to her until I noticed a blond guy heading her way. Ducking my head, I made my way outside, but not before I heard a condescending voice blurt out, "Bella! What the fuck are you wearing now?"

It took all I had not to turn around, walk back into the bar and beat the shit out of that asshole.

She chose him, not you, I reminded myself.

Instead, I stared down at the sidewalk, watching the raindrops bounce off the cement. I lifted my head and inhaled deeply.

"I like the smell of rain on warm summer nights," she had said.

Defeated, I turned and started the long walk back to my apartment. I had just reached the corner when I heard it.

"Edward!"

Spinning around, I reveled in the sight before me: Bella, soaking wet and running full-speed toward me, seemingly oblivious to the rain-slicked pavement.

I began walking in her direction, moving rapidly to close the distance between us. Drenched and out of breath, she stopped in front of me, her long brown hair clinging to her face. She looked absolutely glorious.

We just stood there for a few moments, staring at each other, my eyes searching hers for any hint as to what was going on inside her head. Peeking up at me through her wet lashes, she smirked and reached into the pocket of her pants and pulled out a small, crumpled, green mass.

Mistletoe.

Holding it above her head, she stepped toward me and smiled.

I reached out to push the wet hair from her face. Cupping her chin in my hand, I leaned in and brushed my lips against hers. Once, twice.

As I pulled back to look at her, the dark streetlight under which we were standing suddenly flickered on. We looked up at it, then back at each other, and started to laugh.

Her eyes were brimming with tears… or maybe they were wet from the rain. It didn't matter, because she was here with me now—laughing with her arms entwined around my neck, kissing me back in the warm summer rain.

"Merry Christmas, Edward," she declared.

"Merry Christmas, Bella," I returned.

Our lips met again—once, twice, under the mistletoe.

_____

A/N: Once again, I want to thank sleepyvalentina and wickedcicada for their beta skills, as well as their support.

Thank you for reading and I welcome your reviews!