A/N: Thank you to my team. They did an amazing job helping me with this monster of a chapter.
First things first, I've been nominated for two Shimmer Awards! Yay! Best Angst and Best New Author. You can vote here at shimmerawards[dot]blogspot[dot]com. Thanks for the nomination and support of this story. It's been a wild ride, for sure.
Also, I'm on twitter now. I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but you may certainly follow me at Twihart21ff. I post good shit.
This is the last regular chapter.
I love the way you love me.
Chapter Thirty: The End
"Make it a public place so you'll have lots of witnesses," I joked.
Bella scoffed, burying her head in the crook of my arm as we lay in bed and discussed her up-coming reunion with Rosalie. It had been two weeks since we had gotten back from Malibu and told Blake. Two weeks since either of us had spoken to him or even Rosalie. Emmett had been over almost every day to hang out with Jasper and me, but he never really spoke about what he was having to deal with at home. I told him I was sorry for ruining his honeymoon, but he just shrugged and assured me that I had done nothing of the sort. It was Rose's choice to come back; Bella and I had certainly not forced her. Other than that, Emmett never really spoke of the situation. However, I was almost certain he wasn't telling Rose that he was coming over to see us regularly.
Two weeks of silence from Blake and Rosalie was, I suppose, good and bad. It was good because they weren't calling us or knocking at our door to try to kill us or yell at us some more. But it was also bad because… we missed them. I missed Blake. Emmett and Jasper were my brothers, and while I loved them dearly and considered them both great friends, it just wasn't the same. I missed my friend, and not having him around was leaving a void in my life.
And Bella… well, I could tell she was deeply upset about Rose. She was used to seeing and talking to Rosalie every day, and now, she wouldn't speak to her. Bella had tried calling, but every call went unanswered. Until today. Bella needed to pay off the last month of rent on their apartment so Rosalie was going to meet her tomorrow to give her the other half of the money, and also to… talk.
"She hates me," Bella stated.
"She doesn't hate you. She's just caught between her brother, her own flesh and blood, and her best friend. She wants you both to be happy. She'd be doing the same thing to Blake if Blake had done you wrong." She only sighed in response, giving me a tight squeeze around my waist. "Do you want me to go with you?"
She laughed. "She specifically said for me not to invite you."
"Well, damn. Okay…but I really don't care what she wants. If you want me to go, then I'll go."
She shook her head slightly and replied, "That's okay. I'll be fine."
Rose and I had never been very close in my dream, but I always considered her a close friend. I knew she could always take care of Bella, and be there for her, and give her whatever she needed. That was just the type of person she was. She wasn't overly affectionate or emotional, but she loved deeply and cared for those closest to her. Rose was the type of person you could call if you were stuck on the side of the road. She would drop everything to be there for you. And now, I sort of felt like I would never have that type of relationship with her again. Maybe she would never forgive me for taking something away from her brother. I had betrayed her family, and maybe that was something she could never forgive.
The truth was she would more than likely forgive Bella. I mean, could anyone stay mad at Bella for long? She was pretty hard not to love. She would obviously have to learn to deal with me since I was Emmett's brother, and I was certainly not ever planning on being anywhere without Bella. She would have to get over it, right?
"I missed you today," Bella whispered against my bare chest.
I smiled into her hair and laid a soft kiss on the top of her head. "You did?"
"Well, I missed you too."
We were so sickening sweet.
I rolled on top of her, careful not to crush her, and gently kissed her lips, soft at first then with more intensity. Her hands roamed my back up and down until finding a home in my hair. And just like that, Rose and Blake and everything else were forgotten.
Resting my weight on one of my arms by her head, I expertly used my other hand to inch my way under her tight tank top. I caressed the skin of her belly for only a moment before making my way to her….
"JASPER!" Alice shrieked from inside the bathroom. Their incessant giggling quickly stopped the movement of my hand and our make out session.
I sighed, laying my forehead against Bella's shoulder. "Ugh, are you kidding me?"
"Let's just go up to my apartment. It'll be fine," she assured.
"Let's go up there and never leave."
"Shut up. Come on."
Since the house was taking much longer than expected, I had a genius idea of us moving into Bella's old apartment which had us arguing about it for the past two weeks. I really wanted all of us to move in because it was so much bigger and a hell of a lot more spacious, plus there were two and a half baths. Right now, we had one bathroom for four people which connected into our rooms so that meant everything was heard distinctly.
But Bella didn't want me to pay all of the rent for the bigger apartment. I had been as convincing as I possibly could by telling her I obviously had enough money to pay for it, that my apartment in LA was at least five times the rent of their apartment, but she was stubborn and wouldn't listen to any of my arguments.
She gently pushed me up and jumped out of bed. "Come on, let's go finish what you started," she said, tugging on my arm.
I grinned. "Okay, okay. No need to be pushy. I'll dick it to you, woman. Don't you worry."
She rolled her eyes and started out the door.
The next day, I was in the middle of teaching class when my phone started vibrating in my pocket. Normally on any other day, I would just silence it and wait until students left before answering. But today was not just any other day. Today, Bella was going to call me before and after she talked to Rosalie.
I stopped mid-sentence and checked the screen to be sure it was her.
"Excuse me for one minute. Read over page 227, especially the section dealing with habeas corpus. I'll be right back," I told the class, then immediately stepped out into the hall. "Hey, sweetie," I answered.
"Hey." Her voice was a little shaky because she was obviously trying to handle her nervousness. "I'm on my way right now. What are you doing?"
"Oh, just teaching class."
"Shit! I'm sorry. I'll let you go."
"No, no. It's fine. I wanted to make sure you were okay."
She sighed. "I was fine all day until about thirty minutes ago. Now… now I dunno."
"She loves you, baby, just as much as she loves Blake. She'll listen to you."
"I hope so." She didn't sound certain at all. "I wish you were going with me."
"Me too. But you'll be fine. And if you need anything don't hesitate to call me. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, I'll answer, okay?"
"All right, well call me when you're done."
"Wait! Edward?" she yelled frantically.
"I love you."
I smiled, and my heart soared. "I love you too."
She didn't call me back for three hours. Three hours! What could two girls possibly discuss in three hours? I had tried calling her after one hour, then again an hour and half later. By the two hour mark, I was calling her every fifteen minutes. I was sure Rose had killed her. Yep, she had struck her dead and was now burying her body.
However, three hours later, an exuberant and happy Bella finally strolled through the door of our apartment.
"Hey, babe!" she giggled, running over to me and jumping in my lap on the couch. She wrapped her arms around my neck and began planting kisses along my jaw until finally settling on my lips.
"Hey," I replied against her lips, shocked beyond belief still.
"How was your day?" she mumbled against the skin of my neck.
"It was okay. How was yours?" I asked wearily.
"Soooooo much better than I expected!"
"Yeah! I mean, she was pissed off when I first got there. She gave me a lot of shit at first…."
"Like what? What did she say?" I asked.
She shrugged. "She wanted to know everything. She wanted to know when I first started having feelings for you and when we first kissed and when we first… had sex. Just everything."
"So what did you tell her?"
She sat up and began playing with the buttons of my shirt, not looking into my eyes and definitely avoiding my gaze. "I told her… that I liked you from the moment I met you. I felt something after just seeing you." I stroked her back with one hand and rubbed her exposed knees with the other, trying desperately to keep my cool even though my chest felt like it was expanding with immense pride after every word she said. "I told her… I, uh… I told her that I loved you from the very beginning." I smiled and kissed her temple. "I told her how happy you make me, how after just a few months of knowing you, I truly think you're…." and she stopped.
She glanced up at me from under her lashes then looked away immediately.
"That I'm…." I urged.
Instead of answering, she kissed me. And I mean really kissed me. She knew exactly how to shut me up. She straddled my lap, pushing away my books and papers to the other side of the couch. I clutched her ass while sliding my tongue across her lips and into her mouth.
"God, you're so sexy with your glasses on," she murmured against my lips.
I moaned in response, running my fingers along the ends of her shirt.
"We're alone," I whispered.
"Mmm… I really need a shower first." She kissed me once more then stood up in front of me.
I quickly grabbed her hand before she could walk away. "Is this another one of those 'I am going to purposely get you worked up then leave you hanging so you'll follow me into the shower' type things?" I asked with a smile. "Because I've already showered tonight, but I'm totally down for another one."
She giggled and shook her head. "I'll be out in a minute then we can continue." She squeezed my hand then skipped into the bathroom.
I was glad to hear how Rose had reacted. It was a little surprising to me, but a good surprise nonetheless. Maybe after a few weeks to think about it, Rose had calmed down some and started to really think about the whole situation in its entirety. I wasn't naïve enough to believe she had forgiven us completely, but it was a start. I was still anxious though to hear everything they talked about, but I guessed I would have to wait until she was out of the shower, and we were in bed for the night since that was usually when we laid around and talked.
I heard the shower running a little bit later so I got back to studying and writing up the week's lessons like I had been before Bella had gotten home. A few minutes later, Jasper arrived, looking tired and worn out after a day at the hospital.
"What's up?" I greeted him.
"Ugh… not much. Man, I'm so tired. I cannot tell you how ready I am to be done with my residency."
"Aw, you don't have much longer."
He plopped down roughly on the couch next to me and let out a long, tired sigh. "Someone in the shower?" he asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. She's in there right now, but she'll be out in just a minute."
He didn't reply, only nodded and made his way into Alice's bedroom and quietly shut the door behind him.
It wasn't too much longer before Alice arrived as well.
"What's up? How was your day?" I asked her.
She opened her mouth to answer me, but she never got the chance. Bella's loud, shrill scream filled the apartment. I jumped up and raced into our bedroom, dread pumping through my veins. I flung the door open, only to be met with a dripping wet Bella in only a towel, followed by Jasper who was also in a towel.
"Wha-what happened?" I asked, looking at Bella then Jasper then back to Bella. Alice stood right behind me.
"I am so sorry, Bella! Seriously! I am so, so sorry," he repeated.
Bella turned around, facing him and clutching her towel closely around her body. "Don't you knock? There's four of us living here!"
"I thought you were Alice," he protested. He turned his attention to me. "You said Alice was in the shower!"
"I said 'she'. There's two 'she's' living here!"
"You walked in on Bella in the shower?" Alice asked.
"I thought it was you!"
"That's it!" Bella yelled. "That's it! I've had enough! Edward?" She turned to me.
"Yes, dear?" I smiled, knowingly.
"We're moving into my apartment."
"Well, if that's really what you want…."
"Oh, shut up," she huffed. My smile just gave too much away. She absolutely knew how much I was enjoying this. She stomped off, past Jasper, making sure there was plenty of room between them then slammed the door of the bathroom.
"Well… all of us just got a lot closer." Alice giggled, then walked back to her room… cackling the entire way.
"Man… I just want you to know, I didn't really see anything," Jasper whispered to me. My eyes narrowed while my smile completely slipped from my face. "Okay, well, I saw the back… not the front."
"Get out of here." I laughed, pushing his shoulder as he followed right behind Alice.
I waited in our bedroom until Bella came out a little while later in a tank top and shorts with wet hair.
"So, we're moving?" I smirked.
"Don't tell me you planned that?"
"What? Are you kidding? Do you really think I'd ever want anyone to see you naked besides me?"
"Ugh." She covered her face with her hands. "That was humiliating."
"He said he didn't see much."
"Ha!" she cried. "He saw everything. And I saw…." She stopped, looking up at me and walked around to her side of the bed.
"You saw…." I hedged.
She smiled. "I guess all the Cullen boys are packin'."
So a week later, we moved into Bella's much bigger apartment. Jasper insisted on splitting everything with me even though I tried to refuse him. But I was pleasantly surprised when he assured me it would help him sleep at night knowing he was paying for his and Alice's half of everything. So… each couple finally had their own bedroom and bathroom.
Bella and I took her old bedroom, only having to move my things into her room and tone down all things too girly. Alice and Jasper took Rose's room because it was the second biggest and had the largest closet.
So, Rosalie had to come over on Saturday, our moving day, and make sure she had all of her old stuff out and cleaned up. In other words, Rose had to finally face me.
I was too busy working in mine and Bella's room to notice that she was here yet, so it wasn't until I had to go into her old bedroom to drop off a box of Alice's stuff that had gotten mixed in with mine that I finally came face to face with her.
"Hey Alice, I found this box of towels, and I think their yo-" I stopped right as I looked around and saw a blonde head peek around the door of the closet and lock eyes with me. "Oh. You're not Alice."
She rolled her eyes at me then looked away, going back to what she was doing before I entered.
"Are you getting everything? Do you need any more boxes?" I asked, maybe I was kissing her ass a little too much.
She didn't respond.
I stood awkwardly in the doorway, waiting for her to talk to me, and truthfully, I wasn't above pleading with her to forgive me, but I knew that would more than likely just push her that much further away. I wanted her to talk things out with me like she had with Bella. I wanted her to tell me how Blake was doing, if the wounds he suffered from had healed like mine. I wanted her to tell me everything would be back to normal again… I just had to give it a little more time. But she said none of those things. She just continued to ignore me as she sorted through her belongings that had been left behind.
I sighed, resigned to giving her a little more time and turned to walk back out the door. "Bye, Rose," I whispered.
I was almost into the hallway when I heard, "Edward, wait!"
I rushed back in, finding her in the middle of the room waiting for me. "Yeah?"
She let out a long sigh and looked away. "I don't… hate you."
I smiled. "Good."
"I don't particularly like you either."
"But you're Emmett's brother, and it looks like you're going to be sticking around for a while so we're going to just have to deal with each other," she said, frowning the entire time.
"For what it's worth… I'm sorry. I'm sorry for hurting you and your family." I'm not sorry for falling in love with Bella.
She nodded. "I'm sorry I told him."
And that was that. Conversation over. She turned back around and continued putting things in boxes. That was all I was getting from Rosalie today, but I'd take it. It was better than nothing, and more than I expected.
The next couple of months went by in a flash, and before I could blink, it was Christmas. I couldn't believe how much time had passed. Things seemed so much easier between Bella and me than in my dream. Maybe it was all of the secrets and lies between us that kept our relationship from growing as quickly as it should have, or maybe it was because of my own insecurities and bad choices. Either way, now… when it really counted… when we were here, together in reality, I had never, ever been happier.
And my god, I couldn't believe it was Christmas again.
During the break, we all went to my parent's house in Forks to stay for the long weekend and celebrate Thanksgiving just as we had in my dream… together as a family. Only this time… no Blake. I couldn't say I was surprised. Bella and I hadn't heard a word from him or about him at all in almost two months. We wanted to give him space and time, and if we were really being honest… we were still way too caught up in each other to even worry about anyone else.
And after eating a large meal with my entire family, we were wrapped in each other sitting outside on my parent's patio, drinking wine and laughing as my dad told embarrassing stories of us as kids. There weren't enough chairs for all of us, but Bella waved at my mom dismissively when she offered to go inside and pull out a few of the dining room chairs. Instead, she plopped in my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck.
My mom's eyes sparkled.
"Emmett had this thing about banging his head…." Carlisle started.
Carlisle smiled then turned his head to Bella. "He'd bang his head on anything. I mean, anything. Walls, floors…."
Bella giggled, leaning into my side. "Why?"
"Hell if I know. He'd run around, screaming in the house then stop long enough to bang his head on something then start back up again." Emmett groaned with his face in his hands as we continued laughing. "Damndest thing I've ever seen. And look at him now. He's bringing other people's kids into this world."
She let out a loud laugh before taking the last sip of her wine. "Do you want another glass?" I whispered in her ear, letting my nose trail along her neck.
She leaned further into me, and I felt her hair shift beside my face as she nodded. "Yes, please."
I patted her leg for her stand up, so she did and then took the chair I had been sitting in. As I was pouring her another glass of wine and getting another beer for myself, I had an odd feeling. I could feel another presence in the room while also feeling eyes on me.
Slowly, I turned my head and came face to face with my mom who had a wide grin.
"What?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Nothing."
I shrugged and popped the top on my beer bottle. I took a long gulp while glancing back over my shoulder at her. She hadn't moved at all, and still had a huge smile on her face.
"Really, Ma. What is it?"
"Nothing." She shrugged again. I rolled my eyes because I knew exactly what was going on with her. I grabbed Bella's glass and was almost out of the kitchen when I heard her say behind me, "It's just that she's so wonderful, Edward! And you both seem so happy! Oh, I just love her! I'm so happy for you. You know, I never worried about your brothers growing up. It seemed like they always knew what they wanted and just how to get it. But you… you were a mystery. You always needed an extra push or shove in the right direction. But I always knew you would find her. And you did! You've found her!"
"Ma, please…." I groaned.
She ran to me and wrapped her arms around my waist. "Oh, Edward! I'm so happy I could just die!"
I chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "I'm happy too. Finally." She shut her eyes and squeezed me harder, letting out a soft sigh as she did so. "Uh… I need to ask you something."
She let go of me and took a step back, with a smile still on her face. "Sure. What is it?"
"Do you know where Gammie's ring is? You know, the one she said for me to have?"
And suddenly, her expression completely changed. Her smile slipped from her face, leaving wide eyes and slightly parted lips. I thought for a moment that maybe she wasn't excited or happy for me at all, making me wonder if this really was too soon. And so for those first few seconds of us just staring at each other, her in utter shock and me praying for any other response, I really wanted to just take back my question, rewind and pretend I hadn't just taken all of this too far too soon.
But then… she started shaking. I mean, literally shaking from head to toe. Her hand came up to her chest to grasp at her heart. And a slow, sad smile graced her lips for a moment before it turned into a massive grin. Then, I became the one that was stunned as tears started to prickle in the corner of her eyes, and she began to talk so quickly that her words slurred together.
"Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod! I know exactly where it is! I'll go get it right now!" she said as she started past me.
I quickly stepped in front of her. "Ma! No, I'll get it from you before we leave."
"That's silly. I'll go get it right now, so you can go ahead and give it to her while you're here."
I chuckled. "No, that's okay. I have to get it sized anyway. Bella wears a five."
"Oh! I'll get it sized tomorrow."
"Ma, that's really okay. I'll do it whenever we get back."
"No, no, no. I'll have it done by next week and bring it out to you."
"I'm not proposing in front of you. It's just not gonna happen." She huffed at that and crossed her arms, scowling at me from the corner of her eye. "Plus, I'm not gonna do it right away. We've only been together a few of months. I'm not even sure she's thinking about marriage right now."
"So, when then?"
"I don't know. Maybe the middle of next year."
"WHAT?" she screamed. "No, no, no. I'll have it ready for you by the first of next month."
"Ma, no. That's way too soon. Bella just got out of a two year relationship, remember? She needs time."
She waved her hand at me and sauntered past me, pretending not to hear a word I'd said. "Christmas time is perfect. Good compromise, son."
Later on that night, after everyone had been asleep for several hours, I woke up and had trouble falling back asleep. I didn't want to wake Bella, so I made my way to the kitchen for an early morning snack. I was just stepping inside when I saw movement beside me. I jumped, startled and confused until my eyes focused on Rosalie's form.
"Sorry," she said gruffly. "I couldn't sleep."
I righted myself and eased my rapid heartbeat. "Yeah, me neither." I took out mom's chocolate pie from the refrigerator and grabbed two spoons, not bothering with plates since there wasn't much left. I sat beside Rose and offered her one of the spoons. She stared at it for a moment, then glanced to my eyes then back at the spoon. Finally, she took it and ate a bite.
She nodded her head in approval. "That's good."
"Yeah." I nodded as well.
We ate in silence. Our chairs had quite a bit of space between them, but I knew Rose still felt somewhat uncomfortable being so close to me. Still though, she didn't feel the need to fill the silence between us which was nice, since I was so done with convincing her to forgive me.
"How's Blake?" I asked, because truly, he had been on my mind during the holiday.
If she was surprised by my question, she didn't show it. She never missed a beat as she replied quickly, "He's… good. He's at our parent's place in Texas this weekend."
"Oh." I nodded even though she wasn't looking at me. "So, he's okay then?"
"Yeah. He'll be fine." I felt better hearing it, even if she might not have been giving me the whole truth. But I couldn't help but feel like Rosalie wouldn't sugarcoat anything for my sake. If Blake was depressed or still highly upset over anything, I knew she would have told me. But then, something happened in Rose. I feel it as it happened. Her rigid body relaxed, her shoulders fell forward a little and her back gave way to the weight of it. She still looked at the pie between us as she said, "He thinks they tried to make it work for me, mostly."
For some reason, I was shocked by this. Maybe I had never thought of it from that perspective. I had always believed it was completely my fault. I had torn apart their relationship. But to hear that maybe Bella and Blake hadn't been the happiest couple, that maybe they had crumbled their relationship together seemed to baffle me.
"What?" was all I could say.
"Yeah. He, uh, he said he knew how much I liked seeing them together. Ya know? Having my best friend dating my brother. And maybe I did. Maybe I pushed them to be together too much. Maybe I wanted them to be exactly like Emmett and I, when they clearly weren't. They didn't want to disappoint me or if things didn't work out between them, they didn't want me to have to choose between the two. And I guess that makes sense, right?"
She was acting like a different person to me, suddenly. But I liked it. This Rose, I could handle. This Rose was a friend, confiding in another friend.
"Yeah, but Rose, what I did-"
"Is inexcusable, I know. But I'm telling you all this so you know he doesn't completely blame you. He blames himself too. And I think… no, I know, he sees now that they weren't like Emmett and I… like you and Bella are now."
I smiled, and my heart felt lighter than it had in a long time. Rosalie was finally beginning to understand me… and Bella as a couple. And these baby steps we were taking would take us very far, I was certain.
"I might not like you, Edward. But I love the way you are with Bella. And she loves you, so I'm just going to have to… accept that."
"I love her too. Very much."
She was quiet for a moment. And I thought maybe this was the end of one of the best conversations in my life. She had told me all I needed to know, and so much more. I had a straight face on the outside, but on the inside, I was elated.
"Did Bella tell you what we talked about when we had lunch for the first time afterwards?"
"Some of it. Why?"
"You plan on staying with her awhile, right?" She looked at me as she asked.
"I want to marry her, I'm just unsure if she's ready or even if she sees the same in me."
She set down her spoon on the plate and gently pushed it away from us. Then, she turned toward me and looked at me directly once again. Her expression was serious as she searched my face and said, "She said something to me that I think you should know."
My heart raced. "What is it?"
A smile cracked across her lips. "'He's the one'."
Not more than a couple minutes later, I walked into mine and Bella's room, tiptoeing to the side of the bed in the darkness. A soft blue light from the moonlight lit the bare skin of her back as she lay on her stomach with her face turned away from me. Her skin looked like marble, not a single blemish, not a single impurity. She might as well have been glass.
The gentle rise and fall of her back continued evenly as I stepped closer and closer to her, my heart pumping faster and faster with each step. I took a single hand and ran my finger in a straight line from the top of her neck to the bottom of her back where it met the sheets. When she still did not stir, I laid a single soft kiss on her shoulder, not pulling my head back but instead, letting my nose trace a circle around where I had kissed.
A light rustling of sheets around her legs gave me notice that she had woken, then the slow roll of her shoulders to face me confirmed it. A slight smile lined her face while her blue eyes sparkled under thick and sleepy eyelashes. I rested my chin on her chest and smiled up at her.
"Hey," I whispered.
"Hey," she replied, just as softly. "Is it morning?"
I shook my head slightly. "No."
"Why are you awake?" she asked.
"I couldn't sleep."
"You should have woken me up. I would have stayed up with you."
I shrugged then slowly rose up a little to capture her lips with mine. When I pulled back again, she was still smiling.
I moved beside her, getting under the covers and snuggling as close to her as possible. Her naked body was warm and comforting pressed tightly against me.
"I love you," she whispered into my chest.
I smiled as I closed my eyes. "I love you too."
When we got back from Christmas break, it only took me one day before I was knocking on Rosalie and Emmett's door, looking for Blake. I had a plan.
I stood outside on the porch steps, shifting my weight from one side to the other when the door swung open, revealing my best friend whom I had betrayed and hurt so deeply.
His shocked eyes took one good look at me from head to toe before he stepped out of the doorway to slam the door in my face.
"Hey! Wait!" I called out as I stuck my hand quickly and grabbed ahold of the door as firmly as I could so it wouldn't close. "I'm just here to drop off something for Emmett."
The door slowly reopened a little at a time until Blake's head was peeking through the small opening next to the door frame, looking at me skeptically. He still had yet to say anything, so I fished in my pocket and brought out my reason for stopping by.
"Emmett left his phone charger at my apartment." I held it up in front of his face on display.
His blue eyes darted from me to the object then back to me, still looking very skeptical. "I'll give it to him," he said, finally, reaching out for the charger.
I snatched it back toward me quickly. "Can I come in?" He retracted his hand immediately and narrowed his eyes at me. "Just for a second?"
I was already planning on begging him and making up a more legitimate excuse to come in, before he sighed and stepped back to open the door wider. I was momentarily shocked that it had been as easy as it was before I righted myself and stepped inside.
I moved to the side awkwardly, waiting on Blake to lead us wherever he wanted to go. He stood next to me for a moment, looking at me from the corner of his eye. He still seemed suspicious of me, which I didn't blame him for at all, but he let out a long sigh after a while and started walking.
I followed him into the living room where he had obviously been prior to me knocking on his door. He took his spot on the couch with a small fall and thud of his bare feet on the coffee table. I sat in a chair next to him, not too close, of course. He seemed to have his walls up pretty high at the moment.
"So… how are you?" I asked.
His head turned to me quickly, narrowing his eyes. He huffed and gave a phony grin. "Seriously?"
"Well, I mean, it's been a while since I've seen you. I've just been wondering how you're doing, ya know?"
"Yeah, Rose said you keep asking about me."
I smiled inwardly because I believed I had finally accomplished the impossible and pulled Rose onto my side. "Well, I… I… you know… care to know how you're doing."
"Why?" he asked in a breathy whisper.
"Because, Blake. Damn, just… because."
"Because you… mean something to me."
He scoffed. "Friendship obviously means jack shit to you."
"Okay, okay!" I threw my hands up and began to raise my voice. "I get it. Goddamn. I fell in love with your girlfriend. She chose me over you. Blah, blah, blah. You can't be angry at us your whole life. You know we had no other choice…."
"No, no, no! You can't sit there and pretend to know anything about what I've been feeling, okay? You know nothing!"
"Are you serious? Are you fucking serious right now?" I screamed.
"Yeah, I know all about your weird-ass ecstasy trip where you fell in love with Bella for seven months. Rose told me, okay? It's not the same."
"You know absolutely nothing about what I've been through. Do you hear me?" I stood up abruptly and towered over him with my finger in his face, just as he had done me not but a few months ago. "I woke up in bed with a girl I didn't know, in a house I didn't know… in a city I'd never lived in… with a job I had no idea how to do! And I had to cope. I had to get through it because I had no other choice. I wasn't planning on falling in love with Bella. I wasn't planning on ever meeting you and liking you. But I did. In my dream, we were best friends and had been for many years. You took care of Bella and helped her when I didn't know how. You did almost as much as I did, but just in a different way.
"And so for seven months… seven long months, I got to know not only her but also you. So after I woke up, and I saw you… man, I was so happy. I thought that maybe we could be friends just like we had been. And Blake, I swear to you, I had no idea you were her boyfriend until Jake's party. And after that night, I promised myself I would leave it alone. I couldn't come between two people whom I cared so much about, especially when, from the outside, they looked so happy."
He stared down at his hands that were folded in his lap. I was still standing over him, but my stance had eased on him some to where I didn't look quite so menacing.
And so finally, he knew. He knew it all.
"And you know, I'm sorry about the way that it happened. The whole thing just fucking sucked. And I'm so sorry that we hurt you, that you feel betrayed by us. That was never what either of us wanted. We fought it as long as we did because we both loved you so much. But there just came a time where we just…." I sighed and ran my fingers over my hair. "… we knew."
There was nothing but silence after that. Blake's eyes stayed wide and straight ahead as it looked like he was concentrating intently on the tops of his feet set out in front of him. I sighed once more and sat back in my seat next to him. A few more minutes passed by before he spoke again, in nothing but a whisper.
"I'm sorry I hit you."
I chuckled and rubbed my head again. "S'okay." I looked to the floor and added, "I'm pretty sure I deserved it."
"Rose told me how happy Bella is." I nodded my head but didn't respond. "That's all I ever wanted for her." In a soft breath, he added, "It's what I want for myself."
"And you're gonna find it, Blake. You're gonna find that person, I know it."
"I always loved Bella, but sometimes I did think there could be more. Maybe we were just in it for Rose and because our best friends were all paired up."
"I wish you would come out with us for New Year's," I spoke softly. No matter what we had been through or what we had done to each other, I still felt like we could be friends. I wasn't sure exactly what it was about him, but for some reason, not being friends with him didn't seem like an option.
He looked over his shoulder at me, smiling a little. "Where are you going?"
"Everyone's getting together at Mugshots. My parents and everyone are coming."
He shook his head. "I don't have a date."
"Well, you know…." I smiled. "… I do know someone who wouldn't mind if you showed up alone."
"Get out!" He laughed. "Really?"
"What'd she say?" he asked, his eyes sparkling with amusement.
"She said you were cute. She's been asking Rose and me if you're seeing anyone."
He smiled. "Nuh-uh. Edward, if you're lying right now, I swear I'll fucking slit your throat."
I held my hands in front of me. "I swear that's what she said."
"She thinks I'm cute? Really?"
I chuckled to myself and rose up from my seat. "Well, I think I'm gonna go now. I just wanted to come by and see you. And I'm glad, you know… that we got to talk."
He stood up as well and nodded his head. "Me too… actually." He laughed.
We walked together to the front door from which I had just walked through, feeling completely unsure and vulnerable. But now that as I was walking through it again, I felt lighter… more free. Blake and I… well, I was beginning to believe we would be okay.
"Think about New Year's, okay? And call me and let me know," I added as I stepped on to the front porch.
He stood in the doorway and nodded. "Sure. I'll let you know."
"All right, Blake. We'll see ya."
I turned and started the short walk off the porch and onto the sidewalk. I hadn't gotten very far before Blake called out to me.
"Hey Edward?" he yelled.
I spun around. "Yeah?"
"What about Emmett's charger?"
"Oh," I laughed. "Actually, it's mine."
He laughed too and shook his head before closing the door. And yeah, I was certain we were on the right track to being just fine.
When New Year's Eve finally came around, I was at the happiest point in my life, truly. At times, I caught myself wondering if all of this was even real. At times, I thought maybe I'd wake up one day and not have Bella lying beside me. But no, this was my reality, and it was really, really spectacular.
"BELLA! LET'S GO!" Alice's shrill yell came from the other side of our closed bedroom door as we got ready to go out.
"Tell her to calm her ass down," Bella said from behind the bathroom door.
"CALM YOUR ASS DOWN, WOMAN!" I yelled in reply for her.
"Hurry up! I'm ready!" she screamed back.
I rolled my eyes as I tried to knot my tie in front of the large dresser mirror. I was just about to pull it through when in the mirror I saw the bathroom door open and Bella walked out, adjusting her high heels. I stopped immediately and let my hands fall to my sides, not caring at all that I would have to start all over.
She was covered in black sequins, making her quite literally glow. Her dress was short, dangerously short, but her arms were covered to her wrists in tight long sleeves with the top covering her as well, straight across from collarbone to collarbone. Her hair was down and covering her face as she continued to bend over and adjust the straps of her high heels. When she finally fixed them, she rose with a flick of her hair from her face as well as a quick pull at the end of the dress which was most definitely above mid-thigh. And when she turned around… Lord, when she turned around the entire back was cut out to just above her ass.
She walked towards me, her blue eyes being the only splash of color she was wearing.
"Damn," she smiled at me. "You look great."
"Uh… are you kidding?" I scoffed, wrapping my arms around her waist, the sequins tickling my skin. "You look amazing."
She smiled brighter and began to fix my forgotten tie. "I'll meet you at Mugshots in a little while, okay?"
I leaned forward, kissing along her neck and around her jawline. "And where do you think you're going looking like that?"
"Edward, come on." She laughed, gently pushing back so she could continue fixing my tie. "Alice, Rose and I are going to this new bar not too far away to get a few drinks before we meet all of you at Mugs."
"So, you're going to go drink at the bar… before you go drink at the bar?"
"Yes." She giggled. "Not for long though." She adjusted my tie one last time before gently patting my chest, telling me she was done.
"I say…." I moved back closer to her again and kissed around her ear, "… that we just forget going out so we can stay here and let me find out what's under this dress."
"Mmmm," she moaned before capturing my lips with hers. I drew her as close to me as she could possibly get while her arms grabbed and dug into my shoulders. She was literally clawing at my body as I walked her backwards to our bed. Our tongues twisted as our lips plucked at each other's again and again. I felt her jet black nails reach to loosen my tie that she had just finished.
"Oh God, baby," I whispered as I trailed my nose along the outside of her neck, pulling her head gently to allow me the most room possible.
When she had my tie loosened completely, she moved away abruptly and sat on the end of the bed. With her big blue eyes directly on me, she lifted each of her legs on the bed, high heels and all, until her knees were bent to her chest, putting on a full-frontal display to me. And damn, I got to see exactly what was under that dress.
"BELLA! COME ON! I'M SERIOUS!" came Alice's scream right at that moment. It was so loud it felt like she was screaming right into my ear next to me.
"Shit," Bella said under her breath and immediately popped off the bed and ran to grab her purse from the dresser. "I gotta go. I'm so sorry, babe."
"Wha… are you fucking serious?"
She walked over to me and kissed me briefly on the lips. "I know, I know. I'm sorry. But I already promised her."
I groaned, shutting my eyes tightly but reaching out for her hips yet again. "Why are you doing this to me?" I whined.
I felt her hand caress my check sweetly. "I love you, and we'll continue this before the night's over, okay?"
"But I wanna continue this now," I whined again, taking her hand from my cheek and pressing it over my erection.
She giggled and hugged me tightly around my waist, obviously assuming I was joking when I really, really wasn't. She kissed my lips one last time before starting to run to the door.
"Well, at least put some panties on before you go out," I said.
She did nothing but wink at me over her shoulder before throwing open our door. Alice, of course, was standing on the other side.
"Gross. I heard that," she grimaced.
"Cock block," I replied.
"Eww." She visibly shook and shivered in repulsion before following Bella down the hall and out of our apartment.
I was left to tie my tie for the third time that night.
Jasper, Emmett and I decided to hang around my apartment for a little while before going to Mugshots so we weren't there too much earlier than the girls. We had a few beers and talked for a while before I got a call.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Hey, man. It's me."
Blake had texted me the day before to tell me he was coming out with us, but I hadn't heard from him all night so I just assumed he would meet us there.
"Oh, hey. What's up?"
"Where are you? Have you left yet? I'm on my way." He sounded nervous.
"No, actually, Emmett and Jasper are here with me, drinking a little before we go out. You should stop by."
There was a moment of silence, but I could still hear background noises so I knew he was in a car. I wasn't sure if he would want to come to Bella's old apartment. The same apartment he had stayed the night with her in, I was certain, many many times before.
"Uh… yeah. Yeah. Okay." It was weird to hear anything other than confidence coming from Blake's voice. But hearing him sound vulnerable and unsure made me want to try that much harder to reassure him that us being friends could actually happen.
"All right, man. We'll see ya in a minute."
As soon as I hung up, Jasper and Emmett stopped talking and stared at me. I shrugged and smiled before taking another sip of my beer. They both smiled back, but didn't comment.
Not even when he showed up.
It was a little awkward at first, I had to admit. I could tell Blake desperately wanted to walk around the entire place and see what all was different about it. Truly, there wasn't that much that we had changed. A few of my pieces of furniture and some of Alice's decorative touches were all that were different. But still, I could tell when he walked in he was taking in every detail that had changed. I felt sorry for him and began to think that maybe this hadn't been the best idea, but when he turned around and came to sit with us, he gave me a small smile which I returned.
But then, after a while, things loosened up… and for a moment, things were back to normal between us. The four of us talked and laughed and joked around for almost two solid hours before we finally realized it was time to leave.
"Alice just texted me. They're on the way to Mugs right now," Jasper stated.
"All right. Let's go," I replied, standing up.
"Hold on. There's one more thing we have to do before we leave," Blake said. The three of us stood there, looking at him expectantly. A slow, cocky grin appeared on his face before he asked me, "You got a funnel?"
Four funneled beers and an interesting fifteen minute cab ride later, we pulled up in front of Mugshots, the small, ancient-looking bar we would always go to. Each one of us were uncharacteristically dressed up for this New Year's occasion which made the old wooden bar look much newer, nicer and not nearly as quaint as its everyday crowd.
The four of us were walking through the door when we heard a loud, shrill yell that said, "JASPER!"
We all stopped and turned around immediately. Alice was there, getting out of a black limousine in her silver, sparkly dress with a huge smile on her face. As soon as her five-inch pumps hit the pavement, she quickly ran to us, throwing her arms around Jasper's neck. He flew backwards a little in surprise but recovered nicely and hugged her back.
Our eyes went back to the limo as Rosalie appeared next in a red dress, stepping slowly and confidently out of the limo.
"Boys," she greeted us but kept walking through the doors and into the bar.
Our eyes returned to the limo, waiting patiently on my girlfriend. She never appeared.
"Alice? What the hell are you doing in a limo?" I asked for all of us who had our mouths open in utter shock.
She only drunkenly giggled in a response then hiccupped. Jasper's arm around her waist looked to be the only thing keeping her in a standing position.
"Where's Bella?" I asked her.
She smiled a little then hiccupped again.
"Alice? Where's my girlfriend?" I asked more firmly.
"There she is," Emmett answered for her.
We all turned around at the same time to watch as Bella slowly and gracefully stepped one foot out and the other on the pavement, then immediately stood to adjust her dress.
"Bella?" I called out to her.
She lifted her head and locked eyes with me. A beautiful smile lit up her face as she ran over to me. "Edward!" She sounded a little drunk. "Come meet Bill!"
"Bill?" What the fuck? "Are you serious?"
"Yes! Come on! I want you to meet him!" She hugged me quickly around my waist because she knew how pissed off I seemed, but I reluctantly took her hand and let her lead me to the window of the limo.
Slowly, the dark window rolled down, and we both bent down slightly and leaned forward to look in at the older-looking man in an expensive suit with a bright smile on his face. But his face, this crisp, pristine-looking man, was familiar. And as his face swiveled to mine, his expression fell to a look of shock; I knew he had recognized me too.
"Edward?" he questioned.
It was my old boss. Well, really, more than just my old boss. He was the partner… the owner… the founder of Smith & Layton Law which had become one of the largest, most lucrative and highly sought after law firms in the Los Angeles area. I hadn't seen this man since I quit without much cause not but just a few months ago.
"Oh! You two know each other?" Bella asked, brightly.
"I used to work for him," I replied quietly. "How do you know him?"
He smiled once again and laughed lightly. "These lovely ladies needed a little saving earlier so I offered the drive them."
"These creepy guys were hitting on us at that other bar, and he came to our rescue. Thanks again, Bill. It was really sweet of you to drop us off." Bella smiled.
"You're very welcome, Miss Bella. I hope you have a wonderful night," he returned.
She leaned forward, sticking her head completely in his window and gave him a light kiss on his cheek. He smiled and tinted a slight shade of pink then looked at me to gage my reaction. Before I could even react, Bella had pulled away from the car and was grabbing my waist.
"Come on, baby…." she said, struggling to pull me with her.
"I'll be right there, okay?"
She looked up at me then in the limo window before nodding and skipping off to catch up with everyone else. After watching her return safely with our friends, I turned back to Mr. Layton, holding myself up above his window with my hand on top of his door.
"How have you been, Edward?" he asked, being the first speak.
"I've been great. Really great, actually," I replied. "I've been working for U Dub while taking classes. And I really love it."
"That's wonderful." We sat in silence for a few uncomfortable moments. This man had once been a very major figure in my life. At one time I thought he had everything I could ever possibly want in life. Money, extravagance, power… and I had been on the road to leading his life. This man had once been my role model, and now, I felt like I could not relate to him at all. Looking at his seven thousand dollar suit and his own personal driver just a few feet away, this man had nothing… absolutely nothing that I wanted.
"So, Bella is your…." he hedged.
"Girlfriend. She's my girlfriend."
"She's… um… she's beautiful."
I nodded. "I know."
"Edward, there's something I need to say to you," he started. I waited patiently as he sighed once before beginning. "I've never been married. Never been close to getting married. And I'm happy in the sense that I'm content with what I have, what I've accomplished. I'm blessed in things. There's not anything you could even imagine that I wouldn't be able to buy. But…." he continued, "… but I don't have anything close to what you have."
A chill went up my spine at his words. Goosebumps covered my skin as my heart soared high.
"You're very lucky, my boy," he finished.
I only nodded.
He nodded too then began to roll his window up. "Good bye, Edward. And good luck in all that you do."
I didn't have a chance to respond before he pulled away, leaving his words to ring in my head the entire night.
And so our night went on. And I had to say, it was one of the best nights of my life thus far. Bella was by my side the entire time. She always had her hand in mine or her arm around my waist, always touching me, always holding on. All of our friends were there as well. Shally, Feltman, Derrick, Flippo and all the gang were there with us drinking and laughing and dancing and celebrating this new year of new beginnings for everyone. No one questioned mine and Bella's relationship; no one looked at us weird or even seemed the least bit fazed by our body's magnetism. But I did notice Blake kept his distance and still had yet to come talk to Bella.
I, however, wasn't sure he was paying too much attention to us. Kate McGill had definitely caught his eye, making the two of them completely inseparable the whole night. When Kate had first arrived, she ran to Bella and me, giving us each a powerful hug since she hadn't seen us since before Christmas. She and Bella had finally become friends and reconciled any difference between them. Bella realized Kate wasn't after me, but that she really and truly had wanted me to be with Bella the whole time and just wanted to see me happy and in love, which was what I was now.
And then, one day, Kate told us about her little crush on Blake. We were both a little shocked at first, but ultimately, it seemed feasible. They were both out-spoken and a little cocky, making them a perfect match for one another. And now, by the looks of New Year's, their fate had been sealed as well.
"I've gotta pee," Bella announced before kissing my cheek and walking off.
"Do you want another drink?" I called out behind her. She gave me a 'duh' look over her shoulder beneath her eyelashes to which I laughed and said, "All right."
I made my way to the bar to order a drink and wait on Bella to return. The midnight hour was approaching so everyone was starting to couple up around the place. When I got to the bar, none other than Kate and Blake were standing there, leaning close and smiling at each other in conversation.
"Well, hello, you two. What do we have here, huh?" I teased.
"Red, did you know Kate golfs? She golfs," Blake smiled hugely.
I laughed and shook my head. "No, I did not know that."
I ordered Bella and me a couple of drinks and talked to them while I waited. It was nice to see Blake happy and laughing, but it was especially nice to be around him without the air between us being weird or uncomfortable.
However, I did see him tense up slightly when I felt two long, slender arms come around my waist from behind me, squeezing me tightly. She walked around beside me, still hugging my waist and smiled when she saw Blake and Kate.
She hugged Kate again, leaving my waist to grasp her shoulders tightly. She moved away from her and stood awkwardly in front of Blake, still smiling.
"Hey, Bella," he spoke softly. "You look… you look really nice tonight."
She smiled broader and grabbed him for a hug as well. "It's so good to see you."
"Good to see you too," he smiled too over her shoulder.
He looked up at me as he hugged her around her waist, his head peeking over her shoulder. A slow, sly grin spread across his face as his eyes locked with mine. The face of the Blake I had always known appeared, and as he hugged my life close to his body, his eyebrows wiggled at me where I was the only one to see.
"Okay, enough of that," I said, pulling Bella back to me and holding her close.
Blake's laugh echoed around us even as we walked off with our drinks to find a spot to ring in the New Year.
Even though there was a huge crowd, and even though we were shoulder to shoulder with all of those around us, I only felt connected to one person that night. The one with blue eyes and a sparkly black dress on who smelled like cotton candy.
We held each other close, chest to chest and stared into each other's eyes, smiles gracing each of our faces. I felt so light in that moment, so completely in love with this one person.
Someone yelled out, "Thirty seconds!" before I began to speak to her in song lyrics.
"Probably get it wrong just to get it right, girl. You're probably gonna move. But I caught you now. Now I'll just have to bow down. Cause I love the way you move me. I love the way you move me."
She shut her eyes and smiled. "Twenty seconds!" was called out.
So she spoke after opening her eyes again. "I'm not all there, I'm a faithful sinner. I might get lost, but I'll be home for dinner. If God don't like me, he can hand me to hell. But I love the way you love me. I love the way you move me."
"Ten… nine… eight… seven…."
"I love you, baby," I whispered. "So much."
"Six… five… four… three…."
"I love you too."
And we kissed.
We kissed to the New Year. We kissed to new beginnings. We kissed to the past, that it may stay right where it lay. We kissed to our future. We kissed to what was once our 'what if', but had become the here and the now.
Doesn't everyone deserve to have the good life?
Dave Matthews Band – "Spaceman"
A/N: I can't believe it's over.
I am posting my next story next week. It's a lot different than this. Completely different actually, but I'm really excited. It will be much shorter with shorter (much quicker) chapters. Summary is still being worked on or I'd give it to you now.
Follow me on twitter (Twihart21ff) and I will tweet when exactly I am putting it up next week. OR put me on Author Alert.
A short epi will be posted soon. Thanks for reading.