AN: When I wrote Boardwalk Nights, I always knew that I would someday want to know more about these two. I know that it took me awhile, but I really wanted to get their story right. So here it is, written for the Fandom Against Sexual Assault compilation, the sequel to Boardwalk Nights. Hope you guys enjoy!
Yale Days: A Boardwalk Nights Sequel
I quickly headed up the cobblestone path, making my way to the old campus. People were everywhere: families gathered, oohing and awwing over the architecture of the buildings. I sidestepped a runaway toddler and ran headfirst into a collection of balloons.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," came a man's voice from behind the attacking balloons. My arms were flailing around me as I tried to get myself loose from the strings. Once I was finally free, a little old lady began profusely apologizing, patting my arms as if checking to make sure I was unharmed.
"I'm okay," I mumbled, embarrassed by all the attention. Once I passed her inspection, she let me go. I looked down at my watch. Shit, I was already supposed to be at Cross, ready to go with everyone else.
I hated graduation day.
Dodging another attack of balloons, I turned sharply to the right, taking a shortcut. My shoes echoed throughout the surrounding halls as I ran through the courtyards. I was going to be late for my own graduation.
My steps faltered until I skidded to a stop. I was graduating from law school today. After seven years, I was finally done. I took a deep breath and sat down on one of the benches lining the walkway. It was funny how things always hit you at the very last minute.
No one ever thought I would get into Yale. I mean, my parents dreamed of me going to an Ivy League school, but realistically, I knew my financial status. There was no way I could even touch Yale – no matter how many jobs I had. However, when that acceptance letter arrived, I vowed I would make it work. And somehow I did. Somehow, I got myself here.
"Edward? Edward, son, are you listening to me?"
"What?" I asked, tearing my gaze away from the towering buildings that would be my home for the next four years.
My dad sighed and gestured to the trunk of our car. "I don't think I can stay parked here for much longer. Grab what you can and let's start hauling this up to your room."
I nodded and began carrying the boxes up the walkway. According to my new student packet, I was part of Berkeley College, living in Vanderbilt Hall with other freshman. Following the signs and the trail of other students, we finally came to a stop in front of what would be my home for the coming year.
The door was open, and I cautiously poked my head in. Cardboard boxes already lined one side of the room, covering one of the two beds. It looked like my roommate had already arrived, though I had no clue where he was. My arms were beginning to hurt from holding the box of books, and I quickly set it on the other bed, turning back to help my dad. We were about to head back down when what looked like a pro-football player strolled into the room.
"Whoa, hey, you must be my roomie? I'm Emmett McCarty," he said with a huge smile, sticking his hand out.
"Um, Edward," I said, shaking his hand. "Edward Masen."
"Welcome, Edward. I hope you don't mind, I already claimed that bed. We can switch if you'd like, no biggie."
I shook my head. "No, it's fine."
"Edward," my dad interrupted. "I'm going to run down and move the car."
Emmett turned toward my dad. "Do you guys have more stuff? I just finished saying goodbye to my parents, so if you need any help, I'm your guy."
My dad looked at me and then smiled at Emmett. "That would be great, young man. Thank you."
"So, should I call you Mr. Masen?" Emmett asked as we walked down the hall.
My dad chuckled. "You can Mr. Masen if you'd like. Having two Edwards might be a little confusing."
"Edward, huh?" Emmett looked over at me. "You a junior?" he asked. I nodded. "Cool. I like that. There's something awesome about keeping names in the family, you know?" Emmett talked and talked and continued talking all the way until it was time for my dad to leave.
He gave Emmett a pat on his back. "Now, you watch out for my son, okay?" I rolled my eyes as my new roommate nodded.
"He'll be in safe hands with me, sir," Emmett said, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. My father just laughed and turned to me. His face grew serious as he walked up to me.
He didn't say anything, just wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into a hug. I didn't care if it was uncool to hug your dad, I returned his affection. I would miss him, no lie. MY family was my rock and now here I was going to be without them.
My dad pulled back, clapping me on my shoulders. "Good thing your mom's not here, huh? She'd make Niagara Falls look like a puddle." I laughed, knowing he was right and that it was a good thing I said goodbye to my mother back in Santa Cruz. "Take care of yourself, son. We'll see you soon. I am so proud of you," he said before hugging me one last time and walking out of the room.
"So, you up for a welcome party tonight?" Emmett asked.
I chuckled at the memory of meeting Emmett for the first time. He was loud and obnoxious, but he was also humorous and extremely loyal. It turned out that he was a Political Science major like I was, so a majority of our classes were together. I won't lie; I owed much of my college experience to Emmett. He was constantly dragging me to parties during my first week, wanting to meet everyone he possibly could. It was all about the connections, he would always say.
My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I laughed as I read the message displayed on my screen. Speaking of the devil…
Dude, your hair is never going to lay flat. Now get your ass over here!
Memories of my first graduation from Yale washed over me, and I remembered standing in front of the mirror for at least thirty minutes trying to get my hair to lie flat just once. Apparently Emmett remembered as well.
I stood up and continued walking toward the meeting spot. I slid my phone back in my pocket, smiling as my fingers brushed against what I'd hoped would be my good luck charm today. My pace quickened as the Law School sign came into view. I could see the other graduates idly standing around, all just waiting for the ceremony to begin.
One head stood above the rest, and I shook my head, laughing. Of course Emmett would have somehow finagled his way back here to where only the graduates were supposed to be. He saw me and threw his arm in the air, waving it back and forth as if I couldn't see him.
"You're finally here!" he shouted, running up to me. "Hey, do you think this thing will be over by five? You're making me miss the big game tonight." His eyes were twinkling and I knew he was joking. But Emmett did love his sports. In fact, it was his love for sports that changed my whole Yale experience in an instant.
"It's just a little water, California! Come on!"
"A little water, my ass," I muttered under my breath as Emmett sprinted ahead of me off to the dorms. I pushed my hair out of my eyes as the rain fell around me. Fall had come to New Haven, and I was still trying to get used to the weather. And of course, Emmett decided now would be the perfect time to play touch football.
I had just made it off of the field when the skies opened up, and what felt like a bucket of cold water fell over my head. My shoes felt as if they were sinking into the ground, getting destroyed with each step I took. I finally reached the cover of the dorm and I quickly ran in, hurrying to get upstairs and out of these clothes.
My head was down, as I tried to keep the water from getting into my eyes, and I rounded the corner a little too fast, knocking into something – or someone. Books and papers scattered to the ground at my feet, and I bent down frantically trying to gather everything up.
"Shit, I am so sorry." I kept apologizing over and over to the black rain boots that were poised in front of me – that hadn't actually moved this entire time.
I was still apologizing when I heard it.
I froze. It couldn't be. That voice. That was the voice that I'd heard every day in my mind since last summer. I was imagining it. Obviously. I had finally cracked under the pressure of an Ivy League school. Yeah, I was insane.
But then she spoke again. My name.
I looked up, droplets of water fell down my face and I blinked…and then blinked again.
The scattered books were forgotten as my body pulled me upward. She looked just as I remembered, but also different. Her brown hair was shorter and parted slightly to the right. Her face held more make-up than I remember her wearing, but it was still mild compared to many girls around here. Yet, she was more beautiful than all by far.
Bella Swan. The girl I could easily call my first love.
Her brown eyes were wide, holding surprise as I assumed mine were. I stared at her, not really knowing what to say, not really trusting my eyes. She shifted her weight, nervously pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.
"You - you don't remember," she muttered, more to herself. She shook her head, almost as if trying to clear her head before reaching down to grab her things.
"Bella," I finally managed to squeak out. Her head snapped up, her books once again forgotten. "Of course I remember. I just...what...I...what are you doing here?" I sputtered like an idiot.
"I go here," she said simply, her lips curving up into a smile.
I felt my smile widen. I couldn't believe this. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to ask. Instead all I could come up with was, "I'm dripping on your papers."
Bella laughed, and the sound was so familiar. I ran my hand through my hair, drops of water falling on my shoulder. Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I asked, "Would you like to go get coffee with me?"
Thanks to that random game of touch football, Bella was brought back into my life. We did go get coffee that day down in the dining hall. We fell into easy conversation like we always had. It was insane finding out that not only was she at the same college as me, but she lived in the same dorm - just on the first floor, whereas I was on the second. We laughed over how we had managed to go months without seeing each other in the halls. She spoke of her major - journalism, and we both groaned over the general education classes that we had to take. We must have talked for hours because the next thing I knew, the sun had set outside. I offered to walk Bella back to her dorm, since I was heading that way anyways, and she agreed.
Our conversation slowed as we approached Bella's door. I felt nervous, anxious, and I couldn't explain why. It was almost like I was on my first date with Bella. Oh, if only Jasper could see me now, I chuckled to myself. Bella looked up at me, eyebrows furrowed. I just shook my head. We finally reached her door and she turned to face me, looking down at her hands.
"Bella?" I asked, wondering what was going on inside her head.
"What happened?" she asked, her voice not much more than a whisper. I knew what she was talking about, of course, but I didn't know how to answer. Instead, I just stood there, staring at the white board tacked to her door. Someone named Jessica needed to call someone named Mike. "Edward? I mean, if you don't want to talk about it..." she trailed off.
"No, no, Bella, that's not it." I took a deep breath. "The thing is, I honestly don't know. Senior year was such a blur for me. I was working three jobs and taking college prep courses - everything I could do to get in here. I meant to keep in touch, Bella. I really did."
She smiled, a sad smile. "I called your phone once. I got that recording saying it was out of service."
I nodded. "My backpack was stolen from the Boardwalk. My phone was in it. We reported it stolen and then Dad changed to a different service for some amazing family plan. I lost everyone's phone number, including yours."
"You never asked for it back, when you e-mailed me, I mean."
"And I regretted that move every day." This time it was my turn to fidget nervously. "I could tell how busy you were from your e-mails. I didn't want to, I don't know, distract you, I guess. And then things just..."
"Got crazy?" Bella finished, and I nodded. "I know what you mean. I can't even remember the last half of senior year." She looked up at me, her eyes searching mine. "But I thought of you, often." My heart clenched at her words. I wanted to reach out at push away that strand of stray hair from her face, or take her hand, anything. I just wanted to touch her. But instead of reaching out for her, I tightened my hand into a fist. I didn't know if my touch was welcome, so I went another route.
"Would you like to hang out tomorrow night? Maybe watch a movie or something?"
"Yo, Edward! Snap out of it!" Emmett slapped me on the side of my head.
"Damn it, Emmett!"
He just laughed, ignoring my frustration. "You're about to miss your entrance." He pointed to the side of the field where the graduating class was gathering, getting ready to line up. I shot Emmett a grin, slapping his arm as I ran past him. Tripping over my gown as I struggled to put it on while running, I slid into place behind Ben Cheney. Ben smiled at me, and I winked back. He had been one of my closest friends in law school and crazily, we had both gotten jobs at the same firm in New York. The firm only accepted two new hires a year and this was the first year both had come from Yale.
"You ready, man?" he asked, straightening his cap.
"As I'll ever be," I responded, looking around once more. Emmett was gone, I assumed to his seat. A light breeze blew through the air, rustling the trees. Something brushed up against my leg, and I looked down. The wind had blown around a paper bag and now it was trapped up against my leg. Leaning down, I picked it up, preparing to throw it away when I saw the name on the bag. Bottega Lounge.
"What's wrong, Bella? You're quiet tonight," I asked as I looked over the drink menu. Bella and I had been spending more time together - not dating - but pretty much reconnecting as friends. It was something we both agreed on. We had both changed since that summer in Santa Cruz, and now we were taking the time to get to know each other. It was nice. Our summer in Santa Cruz was the epitome of teen love. Now, in our sophomore year, I could easily call Bella my best friend.
Bella was looking around the bar. The Bottega Lounge was one of the most popular hangouts for students, and it being a Friday night, the place was packed. I was lucky enough to score us a table.
"Bella?" I tried again, nudging her with my foot.
She blinked, as if coming out from a daze. "What? Oh, I'm sorry, Edward. I've just...I guess I'm just tired."
I smiled at her. "Ah, the joys of being a student." She smiled back but it didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Hey, what's up?" I reached across the table and entwined my hand with hers.
Bella stared at our hands before letting out a groan, her head dropping to the table. "Why is Jessica such a -"
"Bitch?" I suggested.
Bella looked up under her eyelashes, and laughed. "This coming from the guy who dated her for two months."
This time I groaned. "It was more like a month and a half. What was I thinking?"
"I won't lie. I questioned your sanity during that time." We were both laughing as the waitress came up and took our orders. Once she was gone, I turned back to Bella.
"So seriously, what's the witch done now?"
Bella sighed. "I just...I can never get anything done. Or sleep! She's up all hours of the night. She has multiple boys over all the time." She cast a glare at me, and I held my hands up in surrender. "I fell asleep in the library the other night. That's how tired I was."
"That's ridiculous, Bells. Have you thought about asking for a different roommate?"
"Yeah, it's too late in the semester to switch. How the hell did I end up with her two years in a row?"
I stroked her hand as our drinks were delivered. Bella downed half of hers in one drink, and I chuckled.
"Don't laugh at me," she grumbled. "Just because you took the easy way out..."
"That's it!" I exclaimed. "Come live with Emmett and me."
She choked on her drink. "What?"
"We have that extra bedroom in the apartment, and I know I don't have to tell you that having another person living there would help my financial situation tremendously."
"Bella, please?" I jutted out my lower lip. "Don't make me beg. I will. I will get on my knees right here and beg."
"Not the lip. Damn it, Edward." My lower lip began to quiver and I turned up the puppy dog eyes. "I hate you, you know that?" And just like that, I knew I had won. "What about Emmett?"
"What about him?" I shrugged.
The next week, Bella moved into our off campus apartment. And as I predicted, Emmett didn't mind one bit, especially since Bella loved to cook. It was amazingly easy living with Bella and Emmett. We all got along exceptionally well, and I was happy. Happier than I'd been in awhile. It didn't take me long to realize why I was so happy.
I was in love with Bella.
Around the time I realized I wanted to be with Bella, she began seeing Mike Newton, some boy in one of her classes. Now, Bella had dated before and I hadn't minded. However, with my new-found feelings, I sat by and watched as he would come over for dinner, eat our food, and then snuggle with her on our couch. Yes, I was jealous and it was beginning to affect me. I was grumpy and easily irritated. Bella could tell something was wrong, but I would shrug it off and go pout in my room. I was pathetic. I had wasted too much time, and I think that thought pissed me off most of all. I started picking fights with both Emmett and Bella on a fairly regular basis. I knew I was being ridiculous, but I couldn't stop.
Then came that Wednesday when everything that could have gone wrong, did. I woke up to the news that Bella's parents were visiting next week, and I knew what they thought about me. From there, the day just got worse. I spilt coffee on myself, dropped my laptop which contained my entire college life, got a D on a paper, and walked in to find Mike lounging on my couch.
"Hey Edward, what's up?" he greeted cheerfully.
The scent of lasagna floated in from the kitchen, and I knew Bella was making dinner. I threw my saturated backpack on the floor and plopped down in Emmett's recliner.
"Don't you have a house?"
Bella chose that moment to join us. "Edward!"
"What's wrong with you?" she asked, looking confused.
"What's wrong with me? Nothing. I'm peachy. I just love coming home and having company every night. Right, Mikey?" Mike just looked at me, stunned. "You know, I was thinking. Since Mikey is here almost every night, maybe he should pay rent. I mean, it's only fair. He eats our food, watches our TV -"
"Edward, stop!" Bella said, her voice rising.
"I can leave," Mike said from the couch, starting to stand up.
"Good," I said at the same time Bella said, "No."
The room fell silent as Bella and I glared at each other. After a few minutes, she opened her mouth to say something when the smoke alarm in the kitchen went off. Bella turned on her heel and headed into the kitchen. I could hear her banging things around. I considered going in after her, but then she came storming back out.
"Thank you, Edward. The lasagna is burned."
"Oh, and this is somehow my fault?" I challenged.
"What is wrong with you?" Bella asked again, throwing her hands up in frustration.
I stood up, suddenly not wanting to be there. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing." I grabbed my backpack, slinging it over my shoulders, and walked out of the apartment, slamming the door behind me. I didn't stop walking until I made it to the library. I quickly scanned my student ID and headed up to the third floor, sinking down into one of the study carrels. I stared into space for awhile, trying to figure out what to do. Eventually, I pulled out my Foreign Policy text book and began reading the chapter discussed in class - ignoring the water stains on the bottom. I don't know how long I was there for when I suddenly noticed someone was standing behind me. I glanced up and saw Bella leaning against the top of the carrel.
"Hey," she whispered.
She motioned to my book. "Studying?"
"Obviously," I answered, trying to figure out what she was doing there.
"Can we talk?"
Instead of answering her, I asked, "How did you know where I was?"
She let out a laugh. "Because you're like me. And this is where we always end up."
"God, we're lame." I smiled.
"A joke, that's an improvement." She took a breath. "What's wrong, Edward? And don't say nothing. You haven't been acting like yourself lately."
I closed my book. "I just have a lot going on."
"That's bullshit." My eyes widened at her language. Bella hardly ever swore.
"What do you want me to say, Bella?" I stood up and pushed past her, heading into the stacks.
Bella followed, like I somehow knew she would. "I want you to be honest with me and stop acting like a jerk."
I stopped and started scanning the shelf, looking for nothing in particular but just wanting something else to do. "I said it's nothing."
She grabbed my arm, turning me so that I was facing her. Her brown eyes were shimmering, and I could tell she was trying not to cry. Now I hated myself even more. Bella was talking, her lips were moving, but I couldn't hear anything she was saying. My eyes were frozen on the corner of her eye where one drop of moisture managed to escape. I watched it slide down the apple of her cheek, over the freckle that sat there, before I reached out and gently wiped it away with the pad of my thumb. But now the problem was I didn't want to stop touching her.
Bella stopped speaking as my thumb moved to trace her bottom lip. My gaze was fixed as she tried to pull her bottom lip between her teeth. I shook my head, not letting her hide.
"Edward, what -"
She didn't get to finish whatever question she was about to ask. My lips found hers, silencing her with a kiss. At first she didn't respond, but then her mouth slowly parted and she kissed me back.
So much came flooding back just from that one kiss. All my feelings from that summer swam through my mind, only intensifying what I already felt for her. I slid my arm around her back, pulling her closer to me.
And then I realized what I was doing.
I pulled away, causing Bella to sway from my sudden departure. Her eyes blinked open, and she stared at me. "Edward?"
"I…I can't, Bella. We can't." She opened her mouth to say something, but I stopped her. "Mike."
"Okay, graduates, are you ready? This is it!" Professor Banner was running up and down the line, making sure we were all in formation. That damned Pomp & Circumstance music started playing as we all shuffled out onto the field. After our little parade, I was finally seated and immediately began scanning the crowd. I looked for Emmett, knowing if I found him, I would find my family.
I smiled to myself as I saw Emmett deep in conversation with my father. Those two had formed some weird bond that day they met and it had lasted these past six years. Emmett looked up, meeting my gaze. He smiled and then motioned to the empty chair next to him, shrugging. My brows furrowed. Where was she?
I turned my attention back to the ceremony. Gotta love all those commencement speakers. Pretty soon my mind was wandering…wandering back to Bella. We didn't get together right away. I left her there in the library and just walked around campus that night, trying to clear my head. Then I did what any guy would do in a stressful situation. I avoided her.
"God damn it, Edward! You can't avoid me forever!"
I looked up from where I was laying on my bed. Bella was standing in my doorway, hands on her hips.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said calmly, looking back down at my book.
"Don't give me that. You haven't said more than two words to me since that night." She began pacing. "I don't know what you want. I broke up with Mike over three months ago, and yet nothing. I'm still just waiting."
"Waiting for what?" I asked.
She stopped and looked at me. "Waiting for you to kiss me again."
A loud whistle broke through the Chairman's speech. I looked around, spotting Emmett grinning madly. In the once vacant chair next to him sat Bella. She smiled at me, and I felt myself smile in return. She blew me a kiss and then motioned for me to pay attention. I chuckled, turning back to the speaker. The rest of the ceremony passed in a blur. When they called my name, a loud chorus of cheers erupted from where my family sat. I turned to face them, holding my diploma over my head and pumped my fist victoriously. I had done it! I had graduated with honors from Yale Law School.
The smile was still on my face as my family surrounded me following the ceremony. My mother had tears in her eyes as she hugged me, and she whispered words of congratulations in my ear. Next in line was my father who squeezed me so tight I thought I was going to lose oxygen. Over his shoulder, I could see Bella talking with my mother. They both were smiling and wiping the corners of their eyes. The two most important women in my life.
"I love you."
Bella's head snapped up from the mixing bowl, turning to look at where I sat on top of the bar. I held back a laugh as I saw that she had flour on her nose. "What?"
"I love you," I repeated, smirking at her expression. She didn't say anything, just froze. I hopped off the counter and walked over to her. I brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "What? Nothing to say?"
"I…I just I…"
Smiling, I wrapped my arms around her waist, my fingers playing with the ties of her apron. "You don't have to say it back. That's not why I said it. I just wanted you to know."
"But I do!" Bella said suddenly, her face flushing. "I do love you, Edward. Truthfully, I don't think I ever stopped." She smiled shyly up at me, and my heart felt like it would explode. She loved me. I felt like shouting it from the rooftops but figured that would be a little extreme. Instead, I leaned down and kissed her. She tasted sweet, like the batter of the cookies she was making. As my tongue slid into her mouth, I could taste the chocolate from the morsels she had told me she didn't eat.
I bent down, grasping her lower body and lifting her up. Bella wrapped her legs around my waist as I began to move us backward.
"The oven's on!" Bella gasped, pulling her lips from mine.
With one hand, I reached out and fiddled with the knobs until I heard the oven click off. I cocked an eyebrow at Bella, and she just laughed. Her laughter was short lived as I leaned over and ran my lips over the curve of her neck. Carefully, I maneuvered us through the apartment and into my bedroom.
Gently, I laid her on my bed and leaned back, taking in the way her brown hair framed her face. This wasn't the first time we had been together since we started dating, nor was it the second, but we both knew that something was different. We took our time removing each other's clothes, kissing every inch of newly exposed skin. Light caresses and soft kisses were exchanged as we teased each other to the brink of excitement.
"I love you," Bella whispered as I positioned myself at her entrance.
"You were always the only one for me," I responded as I slid inside her.
"Hey there sexy, where'd you go?"
I blinked, seeing Bella standing before me. "Wouldn't you like to know?" I smirked, wrapping my arms around her. She was almost eye level with me, thanks to the heels she was wearing, so I didn't have to bend too far to kiss her.
"Congratulations, baby," she whispered against my lips. "I knew you could do it."
I smiled down at her. Of course she did, she had been the one to convince me to apply. I owed her so much, and she didn't even realize it. I reached down and grabbed her hand. "Come with me."
I turned and pulled her through the crowd. I caught Emmett's eye and he nodded, smiling. "Edward? Where are we going? What about your parents?" Bella was shouting questions behind me as we made our way off of the field.
"Emmett will keep them busy," I answered.
Bella kept asking questions until we reached the steps of the library. "What are we doing here?" she asked, confused as I reached into my pocket and pulled out a key. "How did you get that? Edward, what's going on?"
"You remember when Emmett was part of that fraternity for a month?" She nodded. "Well, apparently they have keys to all the buildings. Emmett swiped a few."
"Figures," she mumbled. "But that still doesn't answer my question. What are we doing here?"
I didn't answer, just smiled and pulled her into the building, closing the door behind us. I quickly lead her up the stairs to the third floor. The lights were off, but the sun streamed through the stained glass windows, casting a rainbow of colors around the room. I pulled her to the back, stopping at a familiar carrel. Smiling, I turned to her.
"Ok, you're on something. What is going on? Why are we here?"
"Don't you know where we are?" I asked, mock hurt in my voice.
Bella looked around. "The library, obviously." Her eyes fell on the carrel. "Wait, isn't this your 'claimed' study spot."
I laughed and patted the wood. "Yes, yes it is. We shared many a long night this carrel and I." Bella laughed with me. "This was also where I ran that night - that night when I realized how much I still loved you and how much I wanted to be with you but couldn't because you were with someone else. I came back here that night, after I ran out on you, and all I could think about was how much time I had wasted. How I should have done things differently, told you sooner how I felt." I grazed my fingers down the side of her cheek, smiling gently. "The day you came into my life, when I saw you standing in line for that ride so many years ago, I could only think one thing: how did I get so lucky to have her pick my line?"
"Edward," Bella said softly, her voice barely a whisper.
"The day you left Santa Cruz was one of the worst of my life, but at the same time, it changed something in me. That day, I decided that I would be a man that you could bring home to meet your parents and not have to explain why I worked at an amusement park."
"My parents love you," Bella interrupted.
"I know that now, but back then I could only think of how different I was from you and of how I wanted to be better for you. Honestly, I never thought I'd see you again." She let out a laugh at that and nodded. I brought her hand to my lips and kissed the back before straightening up. "Bella, today I can finally say that I feel like I've become someone that you can be proud of. People always say things like, you've made me a better man, but you truly did."
She opened her mouth to say something, but snapped it shut when she saw me getting down on one knee. With a shaking hand, I reached in my pocket and pulled out a little black box. Bella gasped, clasping her free hand over her mouth.
"Bella, I love you. I have for the last seven years. You make me feel like I can do anything, and I can't thank you enough for that. And I want to spend every day of forever making sure you feel the same." I took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. "Will you do me the honor of being my wife? Will you marry me?"
I could hear Bella's sharp intake of breath, see the tears welling in her eyes. I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my chest as I waited. But none of that mattered, not once she answered.
"Yes, Edward. Yes, I will marry you."
AN: So what did you guys think? I hoped you all liked it! Thank you so much for all who read and who wanted more.