a/n: This is the gift exchange fic I wrote for AmeryMarie based off her prompt of Bella and Edward graduated high school together, but didn't really know each other well. They both left after graduation and haven't been home in five years. What happens when they accidentally bump into each other. I tweaked it a bit and I thought it was pure fluff, but I got some feedback that there is a bit of angst in here. I guess I'm incapable of not working in some angst. :) I hope you enjoy it.
~*~ BPOV ~*~
I am standing on a small step ladder arranging the garland on the tree, when I hear the sweet voice of my granddaughter.
"Grammy? What is this?"
I look over at Sarah, my beautiful seven-year-old granddaughter. It never fails to amaze me what a startling combination of her two parents she is. Long, curly black hair frames her heart-shaped face. I see her small, tan hand hold up a worn, red velvet box as she pulls a small glass ornament from it. A smile breaks across my face at the sight of my favorite keepsake in the entire world. I step down from the ladder and lower myself to the floor next to her.
"Have I never told you the story of this, my sweet girl?"
"No. It's really pretty," she says, looking reverently at the delicate glass figure that is many decades older than she is.
"This," I say, reaching for the box and the precious gift it holds, "is how I learned your grandfather was in love with me."
"Grampy gave this to you?" she asks, her eyes growing with wonder. It is clear to see that Sarah's grandfather means the world to her and anything to do with him is something she takes great interest in.
I smile down at her and nod. "Yes, he did."
"When, Grammy? Tell me the story!" she exclaims excitedly, while grabbing onto my sleeve and bouncing up and down.
"All right," I say, pulling her up onto my lap. "Let's see, where should I start?"
"'Once upon a time,' Grammy. That's how all stories start."
Laughing at her sweet innocence, I look into her eyes, so similar to the ones I have loved for over forty years.
"Of course, how could I have forgotten? Okay then, once upon a time there was a girl who thought she was in love with a boy."
"Was you the girl, Grammy?"
I laugh at the way she phrases the question and nod my head.
"And was Grampy the boy?"
"You'll just have to listen to the story to find out."
~*~ Forks, WA - December 23rd, 2009 ~*~
I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I have had this whole romantic scene in my head where I came home to Forks and Tyler would be here. We'd look at each other from across the room and everything else would fade away as we made our way into each other's arms. There would be kissing and declarations of eternal love and promises of never being apart again.
Instead, I am alone at this stupid party at Jessica Newton's house. Yes, Jessica Newton. She and Mike eloped this summer after graduating from Washington State. They moved back to Forks so he could "bring Newton Outfitters into the twenty-first century." Good luck with that, Mike.
Tyler was a no-show. I mean, we didn't actually make plans to meet. I just thought that he'd be here, and we could get back together now that we were both out of school and living in Seattle. Tyler and I had been together since the middle of our junior year of high school and were each other's firsts in almost everything. We were inseparable and did everything together, including going to Gonzaga for college. I had gotten an academic scholarship, and Tyler had a partial athletic scholarship to play basketball. Those first two years of school were exactly how I imagined they would be. We went to classes and participated in campus activities and parties. We made new friends, but through it all Tyler and I always made time for each other. I was in love with him. I thought we were perfect together. I was dumbstruck when Tyler lost his scholarship due to poor grades and decided to transfer to Washington State where Mike was going to school.
Our campuses were only two hours apart, and I knew it would take some planning to spend time together, but Tyler thought it best that we break up. He kept saying it wasn't because he didn't love me, he just wanted to experience some things in college as a single guy. He said he wanted to see other people during our time apart to make sure we were right for each other. The idea of dating other people wasn't a bad one, not one I would have come up with myself, but I saw the merit in it. I had always thought thought that once we were out of school, we'd reconnect. Sure, I dated other guys in college and have gone out on a few dates since moving to Seattle, but I have never found anyone I connect with like Tyler.
I knew he knew I was living in Seattle, but i am surprised he hasn't tried to contact me at all since graduation. It made sense in my head that he'd come home for Christmas, and this party would be the perfect time for him to find me. But if he were in Forks, he'd be here. Mike is his best friend and honestly, there is nothing else going on in this town on a Wednesday night. Maybe he isn't getting in until tomorrow. Maybe he'dll call me at home when he arrives. Maybe I am an idiot. Maybe he doesn't want me back after all.
I drain the cup of whatever it is that I am drinking and decide that enough is enough. A hot bath, and watching The Holiday on my laptop curled up in bed, is better than hanging around all of these people I have grown apart from since we graduated high school. I push my way through the crowd to find Jessica to tell her I am leaving. I see her hand rub across her very pregnant belly, and I overhear her tell Lauren Mallory she hopes the baby comes before New Year's so she and Mike can declare it on their taxes. I roll my eyes in irritation and interrupt to tell her goodbye. She doesn't even hesitate when she waves.
I manage to dig my coat out from the pile by the couch and get myself all bundled up for the three block walk back to Charlie's house. I look back over my shoulder at the fun everyone else seems to be having and try to hold back my tears.
The cold hits me like a wall as I take a step onto the walkway. I lower my head to start my journey home when I suddenly collide with something solid and feel my feet start to slip out from under me.
I gasp at the all too familiar feeling of gravity winning just as I am wrapped up in strong arms and suddenly pulled in the opposite direction. I topple over and land on something that makes a very distinct sound as it comes into contact with the snow covered ground along the side of the path.
I slowly lift my head up and see some poor man buried in snow.
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaim as I try to stand, but my feet can't find purchase on the icy path, and I only end up slipping and landing again on this poor person. I think my knee collides with something it shouldn't. I hear a high keening sound and am shoved off rather quickly and end up on my back next to the poor bastard I just racked.
I'm laying on my back in the snow, and all of a sudden I start to giggle. It's not because I find this funny, although, it is a little funny, it's because when I'm nervous or embarrassed I have this uncontrollable laugh that appears. I really wish it didn't, but like I said, it's uncontrolled.
"You're laughing?" the stranger groans.
"I'm so sorry," I say between the giggle fits. "I don't think this is funny, truly I don't. I just can't help it. I'm...I'm really sorry."
I hear him trying to get his breathing normalized when he says, "At least they're already on ice."
I really can't help the laughter that happens then, as that was actually an incredibly funny thing to say. The stranger starts to laugh with me, and I take a moment during all of the insanity to brush my arms and legs back and forth across the ground to create a snow angel.
"What are you doing?" he asks.
"Since I was down here I thought I'd make a snow angel. Try it. It's fun."
I hear a laugh and then his arms and legs moving back and forth across the snow.
"See?" I say, a smile firmly plastered on my face. "Fun, right?"
I hear an intake of breath and what sounds like "beautiful."
I raise myself up on my elbow and look over at the poor sod I'd attacked and forced into getting even more wet. All of my breath leaves me as my eyes take in his appearance.
He looks to be around six feet tall as his long legs stick out of the snow bank, covered in dark wash jeans. I notice he is wearing black square toed dress shoes, and I am impressed someone in Forks actually owns such a stylish pair of shoes. His long wool coat is buttoned up and covered in snow. I blush and let out a small groan as I see that his exquisite face looks like a sculpture, all angles and smooth skin, and that he has a jaw that I would give just about anything to run my tongue along.
I suddenly remember I have the ability of speech, and I owe this gorgeous man an apology.
"I'm so sorry for running into you, I should have been watching where I was going."
"It's alright, Bella. Here, let me help you up," he says as he scrambles to his feet and holds his hand out to me.
I look at his outstretched hand and realize he called me by my name. I am confused as I know I would remember meeting someone who looks like this.
"You know my name?"
His laughter only confuses me further.
"Of course I know your name. I've known you forever. Do you...do you not recognize me?"
I immediately begin to wonder if I have a head injury, because for the life of me I cannot place this beautiful man who claims to know me.
"I...I'm sorry...I, I don't," I stammer.
"It's Edward, Bella."
"Edward? Edward... Edward Cul...Edward Cullen?" I say with as much incredulity as I can muster.
I remember Edward Cullen as a slight boy with glasses and only a few inches taller than I am. He grew into this? I can feel my jaw hanging from its hinges and even in the dark I can tell I'm embarrassing him to death by ogling him like I am.
"I'm sorry, Edward. I just...you don't look like...what I mean to say is that...I just, um. Wow. You filled out really nicely since we graduated."
I clench my eyes closed and scrunch up my face, as I realize that I basically just told Edward I think he is hot. His nervous laughter only makes me feel even more idiotic.
"Um, yeah. I might have put on a few pounds and inches since then. Late growth spurt."
He still has his gloved hand stretched out toward me, and I can feel the wetness of the snow beginning to soak into my wool coat, so I take a hold of him and allow him to help me up.
"Thank you, Edward. And again, I'm truly sorry for knocking you over and for, um, kneeing you," I say, letting go of his hand.
He winces slightly at my words and I am pretty sure I see him move his free hand in front of his poor crotch. Leave it to me to squash a hot guy's nuts.
"It's okay, Bella. I'm just glad to, um, have seen you. I've, uh, often wondered how you were."
"You have?" I ask, confused as to why Edward Cullen would ever think about me. He was without a doubt the smartest person I have ever known. If it wasn't for him I would have failed AP Biology as a junior as well as Calculus and Physics senior year.
"Well, yeah. You were the best lab partner a guy could ask for."
It is my turn to laugh now as I realize he must be the one who hit his head too hard when we fell.
"Edward, are you crazy? I'm sure I only made you work twice as hard. I owe you for all of your help."
"Bella, you're being too hard on yourself. You always have been, but um, if you feel like paying me back, would you...uh...want to go get a cup of coffee with me right now?"
He is looking at me expectantly and I have to admit that going somewhere to continue to talk to Edward is a no brainer. Not only is he fantastic to look at, but now that we have run into each other, I want to hear about his life and all he is doing.
"Aren't you headed into the party?" I ask, suddenly realizing I interrupted him as he was walking into the house.
"Well, I was only going in hopes that I'd see someone."
The disappointment hits me harder than I think it should, but I can't be selfish and keep Edward from his friend. I whisper a small prayer that it is just a guy friend and not a girl he is hoping to see.
"Oh, well, I don't want to keep you, Edward. Thanks for the offer though."
"Actually, Bella," he says, clearing his throat after his voice cracks a bit. "I was hoping to see you."
"Me?" I ask with complete astonishment. "Why?"
He laughs nervously, but answers me. "Well, because you have always been so entertaining," he says sweeping his arm toward the pair of snow angels we made. "So, how about it?"
I laugh along with him, but part of me was hoping for a different answer, and I'm a little confused as to why. I mean, I did harbor a bit of a crush on Edward when I first moved to Forks, but nothing ever came of it. Edward never dated, and I was actually one of his very few friends in high school, if you could even call me that. He never gave me any kind of indication that he liked me more than a lab partner during that time. His intelligence put a lot of people off, but I always enjoyed talking to him when he would relax enough to open up. After Tyler and I got together, I was guilty of letting the budding friendship lapse. I have only thought about Edward in passing since high school graduation, but I am actually really happy that we bumped into each other tonight. I nod my head, and my reward is a huge smile from Edward.
"Great. The diner is still open, and my car is right over here," he says, motioning to a shiny black SUV.
I follow him over and get inside. The car still fairly warm from his drive to Mike and Jessica's, and it feels wonderful. He starts the engine and pulls away.
"Sorry, it's not longer of a drive. The seat warmers won't have time to kick in before we get there."
"Seat warmers?" I say, my jealousy of his vehicle accessory evident in my voice.
"Absolutely! Are you jealous?"
"Very, I would love to be able to toast your buns," I say before even fully thinking out my words.
I let out a squeak in response to my gaff, but Edward only laughs at my faux pas.
"I meant, um, toast my buns, or um, something to that effect."
"It's okay, Bella. I know what you meant."
Before I can further embarrass myself, Edward pulls into the parking lot of the diner and quickly makes his way out of the vehicle to run around to my side and open my door.
I blush at his gallantry and quietly thank him. We hurry inside and are ushered to a booth by a waitress who looks very irritated to be working on such a slow night.
"Coffee?" she asks while tapping a pen on an order pad.
I begin to say yes until I remember that the diner actually has really good hot chocolate so I order one of those. Edward smiles at me and says he'll take one as well.
I play with the spoon that is resting on the napkin in front of me as Edward clears his throat.
"So, Tyler wasn't able to come with you tonight?"
I look up at him in surprise.
"Yeah, are you two not together anymore?"
I feel my heartbeat increase as I'm hoping he's asking because he doesn't know how else to ask if I'm single and not just because he doesn't know what else to talk about.
"No, we broke up a couple of years ago," I reply and for the first time I can truly say I'm happy to say those words.
"Nobody else then?"
I smile as this question because it seems pretty clear what Edward is after. The waitress shows up with our hot chocolates so I wait until she leaves our table to answer.
"No," I say, taking a moment to wrap my hands around the warm mug. "I'm not seeing anybody right now."
"Oh, good!" he exclaims, "Um, I mean, I, uh...tell me about your life. What are you up to?"
I watch as he picks up his own mug and sticks his tongue out to slowly lick the top of his whipped cream. I groan lightly and shake my head to clear the now pornographic thoughts his tongue and my whipped cream covered body that are flashing before my eyes.
"Um, what?" I ask as I see he is staring at me.
He snickers a bit and reminds me that he asked what I was doing now.
"Oh, right. Well I live in Seattle and am a junior account coordinator for a public relations company."
"That's sounds exciting."
"Not really, but I am really grateful to have a job."
I continue to give him the quick run down on my rather boring life, and then it's his turn to share. He went to Stanford for college and loved living in the Bay Area, but I'm shocked when I learn he is teaching Biology at our old high school.
"So you moved back to Forks to teach?"
"Yeah, I love it. It was a little strange being back at Forks High, but I'm happy I made the decision I did."
"Wow, living back in Forks...," I say, not quite able to wrap my brain around the idea.
He laughs. "It's not as bad as you might think. I am living in my folks' old house. They actually moved up to Alaska a few years ago, so I have it all to myself."
"You're alone for Christmas?" I ask, startled at the thought. It actually breaks my heart, and I'm about to invite him to spend the day with Charlie and I, when he tells me his family arrived in town yesterday.
"Oh, that is nice."
"Yeah, tonight was my one chance of escape due to the party, so I took it."
"I'm glad you did," I say softly as I meet his eyes and smile.
"So am I," he says, returning my smile. A few quiet moments pass before he speaks again.
"So, Seattle looks to be treating you well."
I notice his change of subject, but go along with it as I'm not quite sure we should be exploring how happy we are to see each other. This instant attraction and connection I'm feeling toward him seems too much like a fairy tale to be real.
"Yeah, Seattle is great, but I do wish I saw Charlie more. He hates going down there and I haven't really been very good at coming home. I get kind of bored on my own when he's working."
"Well, now you know I'm here, so you know...we could, uh, hang out or whatever. You know, if you wanted to. When the Chief is working. Or whenever. I'm around."
I smile at the blush that is rising from his neck. I'm actually really excited I'm not the only one who has a traitorous blush to contend with as well as having a little more evidence that Edward is wanting to maybe see each other more.
"Yeah, that would be, um...yeah, I would like that."
A few quiet moments pass as we each take sips from our mugs. We exchange glances and nervous smiles. Edward clears his throat and I look up at him.
"Bella" he says nervously, "I just wanted to say that I have alw-"
Before he can finish what he was saying, the waitress brings us more hot chocolate. I begin to thank her as the door of the diner opens. I am stunned into silence when Tyler walks through the door. He is with his younger brother and laughing as he shakes the snow out of his shaggy brown hair. I watch as he turns to look around and swallow deeply as our eyes meet. He stops and an odd look passes over his face as he takes me in. He slowly lifts up a hand to wave and I do the same. We continue to stare at each other for a few moments until Tyler brakes away and follows his brother to a booth. Part of me wants to be crushed and feel rejected, yet again, but another part of me, a new, more hopeful part, knows that that chapter of my life is over and has been for a long time. I don't really want Tyler back, I never did, I have just wanted to not be alone. I begin to feel a little guilty about using Tyler like that, even if he doesn't know about it.
"Are you all right, Bella?"
I look back at Edward and can see his eyebrows furrowed in worry.
"Yeah. Better than all right actually," I say, smiling and allowing my blush to raise to a full glow as I realize the man in front of me is part of the reason I'm feeling this okay.
We talk a little more about what we are doing for Christmas, and I see him wipe some drool from the side of his mouth when I tell him I bake Charlie fresh cinnamon rolls from scratch each year on Christmas morning. We notice we are the last people in the diner and Edward says he should probably drive me home.
It's almost one in the morning and I have no idea where the time went. We are quiet in the car and in only a few minutes Edward pulls up to the front of Charlie's house. We glance at each other and I'm so tempted to lean over and kiss him, but I turn and open the car door instead.
"Thank you for tonight, Edward. I had a really good time."
"Me too, Bella. I'm glad I ran into you."
We both laugh at his choice of words seeing that I was the one to completely clobber him earlier.
"Well, I should go, but please tell your family I said hello and I hope you have a Merry Christmas."
"I will. Thank you and I hope you have a Merry Christmas too. Tell the Chief as well."
I nod and swallow, trying to find the strength to get out of the car when all I really want to do is stay in it forever. Somehow I manage and close the door behind me. The walk to the front door is a blur and suddenly I'm inside and feeling a pain in my chest I can't logically explain.
Christmas Eve passes in a flurry as I help Charlie with the town's Santa meet and greet. I laugh as he grumbles about having to be Santa this year. I tell him that if he ate at home more often instead of always at the diner maybe he wouldn't be a shoe-in for the Santa costume. He tries not to laugh at that and tells me I need to quit being so smart. I try to hide my smirk as I make his cheeks rosy with the help of some liquid blush, but we both end up bent over laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. As I get myself under control, I feel a pang in my heart over not spending enough time with my dad. I try to stop myself from imagining living in Forks again, because if I'm being completely honest it's not Charlie I am hoping to spend time with.
As I lay in bed on Christmas Eve, I can't help but say a small Christmas prayer that I'm able to see Edward again before I go back to Seattle. I am imagining the light shining off his beautiful hair and what it would feel like to run my fingers through it as I finally drift off to sleep.
I awake on Christmas morning to the sound of snores coming from Charlie's room. I throw on a robe and hurry downstairs to start baking the cinnamon rolls and brew a monstrous pot of coffee. Charlie hates presents almost a much as I do, so I always try to show him how much I love him with these rolls. He never turns them down. I turn on the radio and holiday music fills the small room. I imagine it's Edward at the piano playing for our families and smile. I shake the dream from my mind as I let out a sigh and push up my sleeves. I reach for the flour and put the silly thoughts out of my head.
After I have the rolls cooking in the oven I pour myself a cup of coffee. Charlie is still asleep, but I know the smell will wake him soon. I give in and allow myself to think about the time I spent with Edward the other night. Being with him in the diner was the best "date" I have been on in years. There is no denying that the long dormant crush I had on him when I was seventeen has started to blossom again. I daydream about visiting him here at Forks and taking walks on trails in the Hoh and along the beaches in La Push. Picnics on plaid blankets with wine and finger foods we feed each other, stealing kisses between bites. I imagine him laying me down and running his hands along my bod-
The sharp knock on the back door shakes me out of my day dream, and I gasp when the star of my fantasies is standing right before me. I get up from the table and open the door.
"Edward! What are you doing here?"
"Merry Christmas, Bella," he says, his gorgeous smile gracing his face.
"Merry Christmas! I...I wasn't expecting you. It's freezing out, come in, please."
He thanks me as he takes a step into the kitchen. I watch as he takes off his gloves and brushes a few flakes of snow from his hair.
He is so beautiful.
"I knocked on the front door, but there was no answer, so I thought I'd take a chance you were back here. You mentioned you bake on Christmas morning, so...uh, yeah here I am."
"So you're just here for fresh cinnamon rolls, is that it, Mr. Cullen?" I laugh.
"No, although, they smell delectable. I actually wanted to give you something."
He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a small, red velvet box tied with a beautiful green bow.
"Edward, you shouldn't have!" I exclaim.
"I couldn't not, Bella."
I look into his verdant eyes and smile. I reach for the gift and quickly untie the bow. I gasp as I lift the box's lid up. Nestled inside is a delicate angel made entirely of crystal.
"Oh, Edward! It's lovely."
"Not as lovely as you, Bella, but I tried."
"Tried?" I inquire.
"Tried to find something that matched the depth of your beauty," he says, a slight blush staining his cheeks.
I can think of nothing to hold back the tears except to bite my bottom lip between my teeth. Edward says things I long to hear and never truly thought I would. I swallow nervously and again met his eyes. Clearing my throat I manage to whisper my thanks to him for giving me such a wonderful gift. I realize then I have nothing to give him in return and tell him as much.
"Actually you do, Bella."
"I do?" I ask, very confused as to what he can mean.
"Yeah," he breathes, leaning closer to my face as he places his hand behind my neck. "You do, and it's something I've always wanted."
I close my eyes as he brings his lips to mine. I'm sure it sounds cliche and hokey to say, but the heavens really do open up on us at that exact moment and bathe us in sunshine. We break from our kiss, and I open my eyes in surprise at the warmth of the sun. I gasp at what I see. My angle's delicate wings have managed to catch a ray of sunlight and send sparkles all around Edward and I. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. Edward is surrounded by sunshine and awash with the reflections from my angel.
He is alive in light.
He is breathtaking.
Before he leans in to kiss me again, he whispers against my lips, "Merry Christmas, my angel."
From the moment I opened the red velvet box and saw the sparkling figure, I knew that Edward Cullen is what I have been wishing on the stars for. My own angel has delivered him to me on Christmas morning, and after the kisses we share, I know I am never going to let him go. He is mine. Forever.
~*~ Present Day ~*~
Of course I don't tell Sarah all of the details. I let her know that Edward and I met at a party and then made snow angels and drank hot chocolate. I tell her that he brought me the glass angel on Christmas morning after searching the entire day before to find the one he said most reminded him of me.
"And did you live happily ever after, Grammy?"
Before I can answer, the front door opens and my four-year-old grandson runs in followed by my daughter Nessie, her husband Jacob, and my beloved Edward.
"Grampy!" Sarah squeals as she runs past her parents who then glance my way. We exchange a knowing look. Sarah and Edward share something very special.
"Hello, my love. Have you been keeping Grammy out of trouble while we were gone?" Edward asks as he bends down to gather her up in his arms.
"Grandpa, you are so silly! Grammy was telling me the story of her angel." She laughs as she kisses him on the cheek.
"Oh, she was, was she? Well what did you think about that story?"
"I think that you and Grammy did live happily ever after," she answers.
"I have always said, Sarah Bear, you're the smartest girl around. I think you're right."
I catch my husband's eye, and he winks at me. Even forty years later, he's as handsome as the night I met him again long ago in the snow. I look down at my glass angel and then back up to him and smile. I give silent thanks to my guardian angel for putting me on that icy path and letting me get swept off my feet by the man of my dreams so that we could indeed live happily ever after.