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June 21, 2010

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Bella felt the morning sun warming her face when she slowly started regaining consciousness the next morning. She felt something that was hard, yet soft at the same time, pressed warmly against her side. She sighed and shifted, nuzzling closer to the soft smell of sandalwood with a hint of orange. She was happy and content to not open her eyes and just languish in a morning daze. She could hear the last movie they had watched the night before playing in the back ground. After watching one of Jack's favorites, Toy Story, they popped in The Lion King. Jack had passed out shortly after Scar killed Mufasa and Bella followed not long behind him. The movie must have played on repeat all night, but she wondered briefly why Edward hadn't turned it off.

...

"It's our motto," she heard Pumbaa say on the TV.

"What's a motto?" Simba asked.

"Nothing. What's a motto with you?" Timon replied.

...

That part of the movie never failed to crack her up. She giggled and felt an arm wrap around her waist. Surprised by the movement, her eyes opened slowly and connected with smiling green ones.

"What's so funny?" Edward asked in a voice that was deep and gravelly from sleep. With no small amount of willpower, she tore her eyes away from his to take in their positions. Edward was lying flat on his back, with a still sleeping Jack wedged between him and the back of the enormous couch. Bella was laying on her left side, curled up half on the couch and half on Edward himself, with her right leg throw over his. She flexed her hands and felt one under her head and the other resting comfortably on Edward's abdomen. Under his shirt and touching bare skin.

As soon as she realized, she pulled her hand away like it was on fire. The quick movement and jostling resulted in her knocking herself off of the couch and landing on her ass on the floor. She laid back on the carpet and closed her eyes in embarrassment and continued to listen to the movie play.

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"And I got down-hearted"

"How did you feel?"

"Every time that I-"

"Hey, Puumba, not in front of the kids!"

"Oh, sorry!"

...

Bella forgot about her predicament on the floor and erupted in a fit of giggles once again. She opened her eyes and looked up at Edward, who turned to look down at her from his spot on the couch, his face lit with mirth.

"Hakuna Matata to you, too, this morning, Bella," he laughed heartily. He held out his hand to help her. She grinned and pulled herself up and onto her knees. Edward was propped up on his side, smiling at her. Jack peeked his head over his father's shoulder and shook his head at her.

"Fall off of the couch, Ma?" His voice was sleepy and confused.

"Of course," she laughed lightly. Jack sat up and yawned. "What's for breakfast?"

Bella looked at Edward and shrugged.

"You guys were talking about going sightseeing today, right?" He asked, somewhat nervously, to which she nodded in response.

"Well, I was thinking that maybe you might like a tour guide? We could stop and grab breakfast on the road."

Jack grinned and looked at his mom with excited eyes. Bella smiled, enjoying the idea of spending more time with Edward and Jack together.

"That sounds like a great plan. Thanks for offering to be our guide," she responded shyly. Edward grinned.

"Not a problem at all. I'd be glad to spend some time with you two."

Jack jumped up off of the couch and fist pumped.

"Awesome! I'm going to get ready!" he shouted as he ran up the stairs. Edward followed his son's sprinting form until he could no longer see him. He turned to Bella and laughed.

"Does he always have that much energy in the morning?" he asked, incredulously. Bella shook her head as she stood.

"You have no idea. He sleeps like the dead. It takes forever to get him up, but once he's awake, he's a ball of energy."

"Huh," he murmured thoughtfully, still seated on the couch. Bella cocked her head to the side slightly and quietly observed him for a minute. She was ever so grateful that they had all decided to change into their pajamas before watching the movie last night. Edward was wearing a pair of black sleep pants and a black sleeveless undershirt. His hair was sticking up in several different directions, but completely flat in the back, and his sharp jaw was covered in a day's worth of scruff. He clasped his hands together and stretched his arms above his head, letting out a soft groan.

Bella bit her lip as her eyes traveled over the flexed upper arm muscles of his biceps. He was well-developed, but not overly so, and it was clear that he spent some time in the gym. Her gaze traveled back to his face, only to find his emerald eyes doing their own appraisal. Last night, she had chosen to wear a pair of comfortable black shorts and dark purple cami. She watched as his eyes trailed up her body, feeling her skin ignite under his gaze. When he lingered on her lips, her tongue unconsciously ran over her bottom lip, which caused his eyes to shoot up and meet hers. The apples of his cheeks pinkened slightly as he looked away and rubbed the back of his neck. She thought that his sheepishness was adorable.

"Well, I'm going to follow Jack's lead and get ready. How does thirty minutes sound?" Bella asked him quietly.

Edward looked up and smiled.

"Sure, that definitely sounds doable."

Bella smiled to herself and made her way up to her room to shower and change, leaving Edward sitting on the couch.

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Forty-five minutes later, the trio stood in front of Nevaeh, with Edward's eyes widened in surprise and appreciation for the beautiful car. Jack giggled at his dad's reaction and climbed into the backseat to buckle himself in. Bella shook her head and nudged Edward towards the passenger side door.

"Come on slow poke, we'll never make it out the driveway at this rate," she laughed.

Edward blinked and pulled himself out of his daze. He opened the door and sat down on the soft tan seats. He ran his hand over the blue and wood grained dashboard reverently as Bella started the car and lowered the top down.

"This car is beautiful. Aston Martin, right?"

Bella nodded proudly. "She's a 2010 Aston Martin Volante. Most of it is all custom detailed. The ice blue color was surprisingly difficult to find."

She plugged her iPhone into it's slot and selected her driving playlist. The upbeat melody of Train filtered through the speakers.

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Wanna hear some funky Dixieland

Pretty Mama come and take me by the hand

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Edward looked over at her in surprise. "Wasn't this from a Doobie Brothers' song?"

Bella laughed lightly.

"It's called 'I Got You' by Train. It samples 'Black Water', which was the Doobie Brothers' song."

"What's a Doobie Brother?" Jack piped up from the back seat. Edward shifted in seat and looked back at his son.

"They were band from the Seventies. Way before your time, little man."

"Oh, ok. I didn't realize you were that old, Dad."

Edward's eyes widened. "I-I'm not that old," he started to stutter. Bella let out a loud guffaw and he playfully glared at her.

"Haha, yuck it up, Ms. Swan. You're not that much younger than me."

Bella sobered up, but her eyes still held a glint of mischievousness, which enthralled him.

"Ok, guys," she said as she pulled onto the highway, "where to?"

Jack looked out of the window thoughtfully before turning back to Edward.

"You guys got any IHOPs around here?"

Edward smiled. "Yes, we sure do. There's one on Lincoln Ave, not too far from my office actually. Does that sound good to you, Bella?"

She smiled and said, "Sure. I am totally down for some blueberry pancakes!"

Edward grinned and they continued on their way, chatting the whole time. By the time they reached the restaurant, they had learned much more about each other. Bella learned that Edward's favorite color was blue and he preferred Classical and hard rock, but really enjoyed all kinds of music. He shared bits of his past as Jack and Bella shared theirs as well. As they were parking, Jack was finishing up a story that he had been telling Edward about the last time he had hung out with his Uncle Seth.

"And then the girl walks up to him and asks him for his phone number. She was kinda creepy, so he gave her Jake's number."

Bella's surprised eyes flashed in Jack's direction as Edward's looked towards her.

"Who's Jake?" He asked, not entirely sure that he wanted to know. Bella and Jack spoke at the same time.

"No one important," Bella replied.

"He's a jerk," was Jack's reply.

Edward looked between the two of them, confused.

"Wait, what did I miss?" he asked as Bella's eyes bored into Jack's. She wanted to know just how much Jack knew about Jake, but didn't want to delve into that conversation in front of Edward.

"He's a bad person who was mean to Mom. Everyone hates him. I heard Pops telling Nana that he wanted to throw him back in jail."

Bella's eyes widened and her heart sped up. Did her father not tell her that Jake was out of jail already? As far as she knew, he still had three more years on his assault and attempted rape charges.

"Bella? Is this guy dangerous? Is everything okay?" Edward asked with concern ladened in his voice. Bella swallowed thickly and nodded.

"Everything's fine. Jacob is not an issue," she spoke quietly, trying her best to reassure him, even though she had her own doubts. His eyes searched hers for a moment and what he saw must have convinced him enough to let it go.

He gave her a soft smile and suggested they head in to eat.

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"So, tour guide," Bella said to Edward as they were leaving the restaurant, "where to next? This is your show."

After buckling up, he sat quietly for a minute, contemplating their next destination.

"Well, we can check out Navy Pier? There's a huge Ferris Wheel, miniature golf and children's museum. I haven't been there in years, though."

"Want to check it out?" Bella asked Jack, who just grinned and nodded in response. Edward smiled and started giving directions.

"Actually, now that I think about it, my office is between here and there. Would you guys like to stop by and check it out?"

Jack bounced happily in his seat.

"Oh, totally! Can we, Mom?"

Bella laughed and said, "Sure. As long as it's not a problem for you, Edward."

He smiled and shook his head. "It's not an issue at all, Isabella. I'd love to show you guys what I do."

After about a ten minute drive, they pulled up in front a massive glass and steel office building.

Jack whistled as he stepped out of the car. "Wow, this place is huge."

Edward grinned and led them inside.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Cullen," an older man spoke as he held open the door for them.

"Hello, Dave. How's your day going?" Edward responded in a friendly manner. Dave smiled in surprise, not used to the jovial man before him.

"Very well, sir. Enjoy your day." The man smiled and nodded to Bella and Jack, wondering if they were the cause of Mr. Cullen's uplifted spirits.

Bella pulled nervously on the hem of her short-sleeved pink and gray plaid button down shirt while they waited for the elevator to arrive. There were two other women waiting, both dressed nicely in skirts and blouses. Bella cringed at the thought that they were walking into an upscale office wearing jeans and sneakers. She took a deep breath and tried to put it out of her mind. Edward was wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt, and he didn't seem phased one bit, so she told herself to suck it up and deal.

The elevator finally came and Edward pressed the button for the 23rd floor, before he smiled at both her and Jack, ignoring the other occupants of the elevator completely. When they reached their floor, Bella looked around in awe. The floors were all hardwood and the walls were a soft cream color, adorned with various works of art. He led them over toward the left side of the spacious room, where a beautiful brunette, with ice blue eyes, sat at the large reception desk.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Cullen," she simpered simpered, as she stood from her seat and batted her eyes lashes at him. "I was told you wouldn't be in the office for a few weeks."

Bella quirked an eyebrow at the girl's blatant flirtatiousness. She looked over at Edward and noticed that his posture immediately straightened and his voice took on a cooler tone.

"Gianna," he nodded to the woman. "I'm only stopping by to grab a few things and to show my family around a little bit."

Bella's eyes cut to his face, surprised to have herself included in that statement. He smiled gently at her before leading her and Jack towards the large corner office.

"Family?" Gianna asked, confused. She didn't spare Bella a second glance, but her jaw dropped as soon as she got a good look at Jack. "Oh my God," she whispered and sat down quickly. As soon as Edward's door closed behind them, she picked up her phone and dialed.

"Jane? You are not going to believe who just walked in here!"

After Edward shut the door behind them, Jack ran over to the immense window behind his father's desk.

"Wow, this is so cool. I can see the whole city!" he exclaimed. Edward laughed as he sat in his chair and turned on the computer.

"Not quite, but it certainly is a great view."

Bella looked up from her spot in front of his bookshelves and noticed that when he spoke, he was looking directly at her. Her heart beat picked up a notch and she felt her cheeks heat up a little. She returned her gaze to the books in front of her and ran her fingers across the spines.

"Mom! Look! We can see that big Ferris Wheel that he was talking about from here!"

Bella walked over next to Jack to gaze out over what was indeed a spectacular view of the city. She felt a slight hum in her skin with her increased proximity to Edward. After responding to a pair of emails, he shut the computer back down and pulled out a few folders from a drawer. He turned his chair to watch them gaze out of the window and leaned back in comfort. Having the pair of them in his office made the drab room come to life. Jack turned around and smiled at his father.

"So, that lady out there said that you were off for awhile?"

Edward nodded and smiled back at his son. "Yes, I own the company so I arranged to take some time off. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with you. I couldn't imagine letting you out of my sight anytime soon."

Bella felt tears prick her eyes at his heartfelt statement and continued to stare out of the window, trying to give father and son a moment.

Jack reached out and hugged Edward, who squeezed back just as tightly as the boy. Jack pulled back and sat on his dad's leg for a minute as he perused the four framed pictures on his desk. There was one of Esme & Carlisle, another of Edward & Emmett and one of Edward and Jack, which looked to have been taken shortly before he disappeared. The fourth one drew Jack's attention the most. It was of Edward beaming into the camera, holding a baby wrapped in a little green blanket. He looked back at Edward and pointed at the photo.

"Is that me?"

Edward smiled sadly. "Yes, that's you. It was the day we brought you home from the hospital. You were born on Good Friday, so they let us take you home on Easter Sunday."

Bella looked over her shoulder to look at Jack, who reached out to brush his fingers across the picture.

"You look so happy," he said quietly.

"Of course I was happy, Jack. You were the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved you from the moment I first laid my eyes on you."

Jack looked up into his father's face, with his own eyes wet with tears.

"Didn't it," Jack swallowed and blinked before he could continue his question. "I mean, did it make you sad to see these pictures everyday and know that I was gone?"

Edward took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh.

"I'm not going to lie. It hurt every single day; every single time I glanced up and saw one of your photos. It also helped me stay strong, though. I knew without a doubt that I'd see you again someday. Whether it was during this lifetime or afterwards, I knew it was only a matter of time."

Edward reached out and hugged Jack tightly once again. This time, Bella couldn't tear her eyes away. She felt her heart swell in her chest and briefly wondered if her heart was safe from Edward Cullen and whether or not she wanted it to be. The more time she spent with him, she learned more about this amazing man. He seemed too good to be true sometimes.

They composed themselves, and Edward gathered up the files that he was taking with him. He straightened up from his chair and motioned towards the door.

"Ready to have some fun?"

Jack nodded quickly and reached for Edward's hand as they walked towards the door. Bella felt a small pang of hurt and she felt a little left out. She took a deep breath in through her nose and followed silently. She told herself that she should be happy that they were bonding. They needed moments like this to bridge the gap that the past five years had produced. As much as she told herself to settle down, a lonely feeling took up residence in her heart. Jack was always his to begin with, she thought sadly.

Jack suddenly turned his head and looked right at her and smiled. He held out his other hand for her to take and that was all it took to calm her insecurities. She sighed and mentally chastised herself for being jealous of their connection. Jack's heart had more than enough room to love both of them. His warm fingers laced with hers and their palms pressed against each other, giving Bella the instantaneous feeling of being home.

When Edward reached out and opened the door, a tall, lanky man with short, dirty blond hair stood there. He gave Edward a friendly smile and shook his hand.

"E," he spoke with a light English accent, "what's got all of the women in this office abuzz today?" His eyes cut to Jack and smiled kindly, before turning his gaze on Bella. His deep blue eyes widened and he grinned from ear to ear.

"Well, hello you, dear," he said in a reverent voice. He looked back at Edward, still grinning. "Who are these treasures, my friend?"

"Demetri, this is my son, Jack, and his adoptive mother, Bella. Jack, Bella, this is Demetri Martin, one of the senior partners here."

"No shit?" Demetri asked, incredulously. He reached out and ruffled Jack's hair. "I've heard a lot about you, little one. How did this all come about, E? When did you find out? I thought we were mates?"

Edward shook his head and laughed. "It's a long story, Tre. How about you come over to the house for dinner one night and we'll get caught up?"

Demetri turned his mega-watt smile on Bella again. "Will you be there, gorgeous?"

She blushed and nodded, not seeing how Edward's eyes narrowed at his friend.

"Ok, enough flirting," Edward said gruffly, "we have plans for the afternoon."

Demetri looked at his friend and raised an eyebrow, before slyly shifting his gaze back to Bella.

"It was good to meet the both of you," he said as he shook Jack's hand before reaching for Bella's and lifting her knuckles to his lips.

"I'll definitely be taking you up on that dinner offer, E," he said before winking at Bella and walking away.

Jack tugged on Edward's hand, which broke him from his glaring daggers at Demetri's back. He looked at his son and his face morphed back into a smile and the three of them made their way back to the car.

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Three hours later, exhausted and stuffed with junk food, Jack plopped down on a bench between his parents. His eyes focused on the giant Ferris Wheel and groaned.

"Oh, I think I'm gonna be sick. Why did you let me eat so much?" He whined at his parents.

"It's your own fault. I told you to stop, but you wouldn't listen," Bella laughed. She looked at her watch and pursed her lips.

"What's wrong, Bell?" Edward asked. Her heart skipped a beat at his use of her nickname. She looked over at him and smiled.

"Alice's flight lands in less than an hour. How would you feel about coming to O'Hare with us to meet her? Jasper will be there to pick her up, so I was thinking that maybe we can all go out to dinner," she asked tentatively.

Edward gazed thoughtfully out over the water for a few moments before nodding and smiling at her.

"Sure, I'd love to meet your friends."

"Oh, god, don't talk about food right now, please?" Jack groaned. Bella laughed again and stood up. She reached down and pulled him up. She threw her arm around his shoulder and rubbed his belly with her other hand.

"Maybe next time you'll refrain from trying to out-eat a grown man?"

Edward chuckled as he followed them. Bella hesitated when she reached the car. She looked over at Edward's confused face and tossed him her keys. He caught them easily and grinned.

"Really? Are you sure?" he asked excitedly. She nodded and let herself in the passenger door.

"Well, I figure that you know your way around better than I do," she said as she buckled herself in. He reached out with his right hand and squeezed one of hers. Surprised at the contact, she glanced up at him and returned his smile. She felt giddy the entire drive to the airport when he never removed his hand, except when he needed it to turn the wheel, but he always went right back to holding hers.

When they arrived at the airport, Bella shot Jasper a text to see where he was. They headed over to meet him once she got his response. As soon as Jack caught sight of his uncle, he took off running and launched himself into his arms. Jasper laughed and swung the boy around.

Bella smirked at Jack and raised an eyebrow when she and Edward caught up with them.

"Stomach isn't hurting now, is it?" she asked sarcastically. Jack smiled and shrugged noncommittally.

Jasper straightened up and held his hand out to Edward.

"I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to introduce myself yesterday. I'm Jasper Whitlock. I apologize for just bargin' in your home like that. I wasn't thinking clearly."

Bella smiled as she watched Jasper's charm and charisma put Edward at ease.

"I apologize as well. You took me off guard, and I didn't help matters by disappearing."

Jack walked over and leaned against his mother as Jazz and Edward struck up a conversation about what, she had no idea. Her attention was focused on where her best friend would be emerging from shortly. Even though it had only been a few days, she missed Alice like crazy. A few moments later, people started emerging from the Seattle gate and Bella stepped up on her toes trying to find Allie. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a small blur of black and pink before being knocked into from the side. She stumbled slightly before righting herself and felt Alice's arms wrap around her middle.

She sighed and hugged her best friend. How the girl could move so fast in high heels is still beyond her.

"Oh, Bells! I've missed you! I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to talk much these past few days!"

Bella pulled back and grinned at Alice. She was wearing a pink sundress and her should-length black hair was pulled back in a clip.

Jasper took Allie from her arms and kissed her soundly. Alice smiled up and him and grinned. She looked over at Edward and her mouth formed the shape of an 'O' for a moment before smiling brightly at him. She walked over and hugged him tightly.

"You must be Edward!" Alice exclaimed. "He looks just like you! It's uncanny."

Edward smiled and nodded. "Yes, I'm Edward, and you must be Alice? It's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard nothing but good things about you. Pink looks absolutely stunning on you, by the way."

"I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship, Edward."

She hooked one arm through his and the other through Jack's as they started walk off towards the exit. Bella looked over at Jazz, who only shrugged back at her and held out his arm.

Bella laughed and put her arm through his as they followed the pair of Cullens, who were currently getting their ears talked off.

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AN: Pics of Nevaeh and Demetri, as well at the music used in this chapter, are up on the blog! (kitsushel . blogspot . com)