A/N—As always, all things Twilight belong to SM. My prayers and thoughts are with you, monamour.
I remember the excitement of Christmas mornings from my youth, before I was changed. I remember that feeling of waking up with excited anticipation, knowing something great was waiting for me. This morning feels that same way. But this day holds more in store for me than presents from Santa Claus. I am spending my first Christmas with Bella today. I'm hoping it is the first of hundreds—maybe thousands.
I am currently waiting for her to wake up so we can exchange our own gifts. We have plans to meet Charlie at my parents' house later today. But this morning, I get Bella all to myself.
It is my fervent hope that in a few hours, this day will be ingrained in my memory, not only as my first Christmas morning with Bella but also as the day she agreed to become my wife.
We have been living together for 19 days, and except for those precious four days I spent with Bella in Orlando, they have been the 19 best days of my life. I have won back my Bella. Now, I have to make sure I keep her.
I have spent the last two weeks trying to imagine the most perfect proposal, trying to find that one romantic gesture that would adequately convey to Bella how much I love her and want her to be my wife. Some of my ideas were rather grand in nature. I have a tendency to get carried away when it comes to Bella. Let's just say passports, exotic flowers, and fireworks were involved.
But as I imagined these different elaborate and romantic scenarios, something always just seemed off. I couldn't imagine Bella feeling comfortable in those settings. And then I thought maybe I should take Bella to a place that had special meaning to us. I thought of Bella Italia, the site of our first date. Or our meadow, where we first declared ourselves. I even thought about returning to Orlando, the place where I first gave all of myself to Bella. But then, it suddenly came to me. The perfect place to declare to Bella that I want to have her by my side for eternity, as my wife.
Here. In our first home.
Bella and I will share dozens of homes over the next several decades, centuries. But this place will always be special because it will always be our first home. It is the site where my dream of sharing a life with my mate first began. So, I called off the pyrotechnics and orchestra that I had on standby and simplified my plans considerably.
I am so nervous and excited. But this just feels right. It is the next natural step.
I smile in anticipation as I hear Bella's breathing and heart rate change. She will be awake in less than a minute. As she starts to move, I hug her tightly in my arms and whisper, "Merry Christmas."
She stretches and wishes me a Merry Christmas, but without opening her eyes.
"Breakfast or presents first?" I ask as I place soft kisses on her eyelids and nose.
She finally opens her eyes as her stomach growls. We both chuckle.
"Breakfast it shall be," I tell her as I scurry from the bed.
After a human moment, Bella meets me in the kitchen. While she tries to hide her reaction, I can see she is surprised that I have not started her breakfast. I have cooked her breakfast every morning for nearly two weeks. It's something I enjoy doing for Bella. And she oftentimes rewards me with fellatio.
But this morning is different.
"Do you want eggs?" I ask her.
She smiles. "Yes. Scrambled eggs and toast sound perfect."
I kiss her on the cheek and then call as I walk by her toward the living room, "Good. You will find a whole new dozen in the refrigerator that I bought yesterday."
I hide my smirk and even though I don't look over my shoulder, I can practically hear Bella's jaw drop in surprise. She knows that I never pass up an opportunity to make her breakfast and increase my chances of receiving fellatio. But this is part of my surprise.
As soon as I hear her open the refrigerator and remove the carton of eggs, I get ready to make my move. As soon as she opens the carton, I hear her gasp of surprise and when she turns around, with the egg carton in her hand, she finds me on one knee, in the middle of our kitchen floor. I take her hand in between both of mine. I take a deep breath and look up into Bella's eyes, which are wide with surprise.
"Ninety-nine days ago, the fates finally smiled upon me when they put me in your path, and you were then gracious enough to give me another chance. You have made me the happiest man on this entire planet. You have brought laughter, love, and life into my dreary existence. I want to spend every day of forever with you by my side, trying to make you as happy as you have made me."
I reach into the egg carton and remove the ring in there. It was my mother's ring. I hold it up to her.
"Isabella Marie Swan, will you marry me?"
She drops the carton, and eggs splatter on the floor, but we both ignore them. Her now free hand flies up to cover her mouth, and her heart is fluttering at an extremely high speed. She has not made a sound except for that initial gasp, and her eyes have now lowered and are focused on the ring. I feel so vulnerable here on my knee holding out my ring literally and my heart figuratively to the woman I love.
After thirty-three agonizing seconds, Bella finally speaks. "Edward," she breathes.
And I know. Her answer will not be yes. It feels like my heavy, dead heart has fallen into the pit of my stomach.
"Yes," she says so low that even I can barely hear it. My dead heart soars.
"But," she whispers. My dead heart drops again. This roller coaster is enough to give a vampire an aneurysm.
"Would you mind if we had a long engagement? Maybe wait to set a date after law school?"
Relief floods through me. While I would have preferred to marry Bella as soon as possible, I choose to concentrate on the important part of her response. She said yes.
"Yes. Of course we can wait," I answer as I slip the ring on to her fourth finger and proceed to kiss every inch of her left hand in gratitude for her agreeing to be my wife... someday.
I stand and hug her and simply say, "Thank you."
"Is it okay if we tell our family?" I ask tentatively. "We can let them know we plan a long engagement," I add.
She bites her bottom lip briefly before replying. "Yes, of course we will tell your family. It's not like Alice doesn't know."
Then something occurs to her. "Wow. Charlie is going to be shocked."
"He knows I was planning to ask you," I tell her, as I hold her in my arms.
She pulls back. "What?"
"I had to seek his permission to ask you, of course," I tell her and smirk at the look of disbelief upon her features.
She shakes her head. "You're brave."
"I told you I would win him over."
She smiles and moves away from me, her eyes focusing on the mess on the floor.
"Why don't you let me clean this up, and I will whip you up something else since the eggs are ruined?" I ask, really wanting to be alone and collect my thoughts. "Breakfast should be ready by the time you finish getting dressed and then we can open our presents."
Bella goes to leave the kitchen, and I jump into action. The mess is cleaned up in less than two seconds before I slow to human speed, grabbing the ingredients for pancakes. Thank goodness we have the instant batter. I only need to add milk and frozen blueberries.
I leave Bella briefly to eat while I go and take a shower. I leave her with a soft kiss and a promise to exchange gifts upon my return.
I take my shower quickly and return to the living room, where Bella is sitting Indian style, in front of our modest Christmas tree. My family and Charlie are not expecting us for over four hours. I made sure Bella and I had some alone time this morning because I'm feeling selfish and I want to spend some alone time with my new fiancé.
Bella has a wrapped present in her lap and smiles at me when I sit down. I cock my head in confusion and look at the gifts under the tree that she had placed there previously for me.
She answers my unspoken question. "Oh, those are yours, too. But this one is special."
I am truly happy and thankful to be here, in this moment, sharing Christmas with my Bella. She has already given me everything. And I tell her so. "You have already given me the best present. Your love and promise to marry me someday."
She smiles and looks down at her ring.
"It was my mother's. I hope you like it. If you don't..."
She cuts off my offer to buy another ring. "Edward, it's perfect. I have never seen anything so lovely."
She then looks up at me and nods to the gift I'm holding in my lap.
"So me first?" I ask, giving her the crooked smile I know she likes. She nods her head and smiles with anticipation.
I carefully remove the paper and life the lid on a slender box. I find myself staring at two round trip tickets to Tanzania, a country located in Eastern Africa.
I look up at her and she smiles. "You spent nearly four years in Africa, Edward. I thought you might like to go back and maybe show me what you did there. It sounded fascinating."
"Bella," I breathe. "This is too much." The truth is I have dreamed of taking Bella to Africa and sharing some of my memories with her. But, she must have spent most of her savings on these tickets.
"Edward Cullen is complaining that I spent too much on a gift?" she says teasingly. She crawls over to me and sits in my lap, facing me and wrapping her arms around me. "Can't a girl spoil her fiancé?" she says as she kisses me softly on my lips.
How can I argue with anything she wants when she calls me her fiancé? "Anytime," I say as our lips continue to meet in soft kisses.
She pulls away smiling. "We go in May, right after the semester ends."
I smile back. "I can't wait to show you Africa, Bella. Thank you for this wonderful gift."
"You're welcome," she responds.
I hand her a small gift box. She opens it enthusiastically, smiling as she uncovers a slender box. She opens it and inside is a 24 carat gold bracelet. The bracelet contains a charm which is the Cullen family crest.
"Oh, Edward," she exclaims in awe as she lifts it from the box and holds it up.
"It's our family crest. You're part of this family. I thought you might like to wear it like the rest of us do," I say shyly.
"Do you want me to wear this before we get married?" she asks.
"Of course," I tell her, reaching for the bracelet and moving to put it on her right wrist.
After I fasten the bracelet around her small wrist and while still staring at it, I tell her. "We love you. I told you already: you are already part of this family."
"You know Alice is going to want to start planning right away. She is going to be hard to keep at bay," I tell her as I let her wrist go.
"No! No big wedding. When we're ready, promise me we will keep it small."
I sigh and take her hands from my face so I can place kisses on the inside of each of her wrists. "Anything you want, love."
We continue to exchange the rest of our gifts for each other, made up of FSU boxers and sweatshirts for me and a new iPod for Bella.
Before it is time to leave, I take Bella into my arms and hold her to me tightly. I thank her again for accepting my proposal. I sigh, looking forward to today and all the tomorrows I will have with the love of my existence.
E/N—Well, that's it...just kidding. When I started the epilogue, I realized that I really hated to skip over Bella's and Edward's law school years. So I've decided to do a sequel that will pick up a year and a half after this, when Bella and Edward are about to begin their third and last year of law school. Therefore, the epilogue will be put off until after the sequel. I haven't decided on the title of the sequel yet, so make sure you add me to your author alerts list so you will know when the new story has been posted. I should have the first chapter up before the end of the month.
Don't forget to vote in the Glove Awards and Golden Lemon Awards. If you are so inclined, vote for this story ;). If you love Emmett, you especially want to check out the Glove Awards where this story is nominated for Best Emmett. http(colon)/thegloveawards(dot)webs(dot)com/vote(dot)htm
BTW, ladyrip (the wonderful beta who helps bring you these chapters) has written a great story for the Plot Bunny Contest. The link to her story and the voting website in on page 78 of the forum. Voting has started!
Thank you again, sis, ladyrip, the reviewers, and all of the honeypotettes who kept me and this story on track.
Please leave me your (semi?) final thoughts in a review or a posting on the forum.