There is an AN at the end that I'm pretty sure you'll want to read. I promise to keep it short. ;-)
The next morning, Jack lounged across the bed while he watched his mother scurry around the room, packing an overnight bag for him to take on the overnight trip to his great-grandparent's house. He watched her in amusement and laughed. Bella heard his giggle and looked over at him.
"What's so funny?" she asked in confusion. He shook his head and grinned.
"Why are you so amped up, Ma? Is it because I'm going away overnight or are you weirded out about going on a date with Dad?"
Bella's eyes widened and she stopped in the middle of folding a pair of jeans. She blinked at him several times before cocking her head slightly to the side.
"How did you know about that?"
He shrugged innocently. "Who do you think told him to man up and ask you out if he liked you?"
She raised an eyebrow and sat down on the bed across from Jack.
"Did he? I mean, did he say that he liked me?" she stammered out nervously.
Jack gave her an incredulous look and said, "Duh. Why do you think I told him to ask you out?"
"Okay, Little Bit. Spill. Tell me what he said," she said excitedly.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Isn't this a girly thing to do, Mom? I have a rep to uphold, you know."
Bella swatted him lightly on his shoulder, causing Jack to grin widely.
"Hush, boy, and humor your mother."
"Sure, sure," he said, laughing lightly. "We were sitting and watching a movie last night while we were waiting for you to get home. Dad was acting all weird and his leg was bouncing up and down, like he was nervous. So, I asked him what was wrong, and he said nothing. A couple of minutes later he asked if I would be okay if he asked you out on a date."
Bella bit her lip to contain the huge smile that wanted to erupt across her face.
"What did you say?"
"I said that I thought it was awesome. If he liked you, then he should ask you out. At least I'd know that my Dad had honorable intentions."
Bella's eyebrows shot up. "Honorable intentions? Kid, you're eight, not eighty."
"Whatever. You're still my mom, and I want to know that you're safe," he responded, matter-of-factly.
Bella reached over and pulled her son into a tight hug.
"Thanks, Jack," she whispered. "I love you, kiddo."
"I know, Mom. I love you, too."
She pulled away; wiping her eyes, and went back to the task of packing his overnight bag. Once it was finished, Bella dropped it at the foot of his bed.
"So," Jack spoke up after a minute, "what did you say when he asked you?"
Bella shook her head and laughed lightly, remembering the previous night.
He looked determinedly into her eyes and nodded, before smiling shyly.
"Yes, you can. Go out on a date with me?"
Bella's eyes widened in surprise. That wasn't the answer she had been expecting.
"Oh! Uh, um," she stammered nervously and backed away slightly.
She noticed his smile fall slightly and she scrambled to fix it, but he held up his hand when she started to speak.
"Look, you know what? Never mind. Bad timing on my part." He smiled ruefully and ran his hand through his hair nervously.
Her heart began to beat in a staccato rhythm, and she couldn't help but smile. She turned and started to walk towards the stairs, leaving the confused man staring at her back. When she reached the bottom, she turned and grinned at him.
"If you're still offering, I'd love to go out on a date with you, Edward," she said quietly, but loud enough that he could hear. He beamed at her and let out a nervous laugh.
"Would tomorrow be too soon?"
She shook her head no and continued to smile.
"Okay, then. Goodnight Bella," he replied with a smirk.
"So, are you going to tell me or not?" Jack asked, impatiently.
"Nope." Bella laughed and shook her head. Jack grumbled playfully and rolled his eyes before breaking out into giggles.
"Come on, kiddo. Let's go have some breakfast before you head out."
She swung her arm around the boy's shoulder, and they left the room.
"You were right, you know," she said softly as they made their way downstairs.
"About what?" he asked.
"I'm anxious about you being away overnight and nervous about the date. I haven't been on many."
Jack shrugged. "I don't think there's anything to worry about. I'll be safe with MeMe and PopPop. They won't let anything bad happen to me again."
When they stopped at the foot of the staircase, Jack turned to Bella and gave her a warm smile.
"Plus, my dad likes you. I know you like him, too, so I'm pretty sure you guys will have fun. Stop worrying."
"How did you get so grown up? It's not fair, you were supposed to be my little boy forever," she teased.
Jack gave her a serious look and shook his head slightly.
"No matter what, I'll always be your little boy, Ma."
She smiled affectionately at her son and wrapped him in a tight hug.
After doing her best not to have an emotional breakdown when Carlisle and Esme drove off with Jack, Bella made her way back up to her room, wondering why she hadn't seen Edward as of yet. Jack had run up to say goodbye and came back down with a goofy smile on his face. She tried to get him to spill what he knew, but the kid wouldn't budge.
She stopped in front of her door and looked questioningly at the card taped to it. Her name was written in an elegant, flowing script.
I've planned a few things out for today and I wanted to make sure that
you'd be comfortable, so I had my mother pick out some clothes for you.
I hope that wasn't too impertinent of me, but I'd like to surprise you.
If you're not okay with that in anyway, I'm sorry and feel free to ignore the clothes.
Meet me downstairs at noon, please. I'm looking forward to today immensely.
Bella looked down at the card in her hand and glanced towards the third floor stairs. She smiled widely and stepped into her room, shutting the door behind her. She walked over to the bed, where a knee-length brown gypsy-style skirt laid out next to a plum colored halter top. A pair of soft-looking brown boots sat on the floor in front of the night table.
She felt nerves try to usurp the anticipation building in her belly, and she pushed them down. She was looking forward to this and wasn't about to let anything ruin it. She eagerly jumped into the shower to start getting ready. Thirty minutes later, she was standing in front of a full size mirror, admiring the outfit that Esme had put together. The boots were surprisingly as comfortable as they looked and the skirt was a perfect length. She pulled her hair back into a loose pony tail and applied some lip gloss.
She nodded to her reflection and then turned to grab her purse, making sure her wallet and phone were safely tucked inside. She took a deep breath and glanced at the clock on the wall. 11:45. Not wanting to appear too eager by rushing down there early, she sat down with her laptop and checked a few emails. She opened one from Tanya and noticed that it was a long one, so she looked at the time and jumped up seeing that it was 12:03.
She ran her hand downwards and smoothed out the fabric of the skirt before heading downstairs. The butterflies in her stomach intensified with each step that she took. When she reached the bottom, her eyes locked with Edward's eager ones. He quickly stood from his seat on the couch and grinned. She took in his appearance and smiled. He was wearing dark wash jeans and blue plaid short-sleeved shirt, with a white tee peeking out from underneath.
Edward picked up a wicker basket with one hand and walked over to her, holding out his other for her to take. She placed her hand gently in his and bit her lip slightly.
"Shall we?" he asked, pulling her gently towards the door. She nodded and followed him willingly. He hesitated when they reached her car and glanced at her sheepishly.
"Do you mind if take Nevaeh? If you do, we can take mine. It's not a problem." He gestured towards a black Audi R8 that was parked off to the side of the house. She shrugged and tossed him her keys.
"I don't mind. It's perfect weather for the top down," she responded with a smirk. He shook his head and laughed as they got settled into their seats.
"So," she began to ask, "are you going to tell me where we're going yet?"
"We're going to the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park. They're having an Independence Day concert at the Pavilion. I thought that maybe afterwards we could walk around the park and have a picnic."
He gestured to the basket that he had placed on the back seat. She smiled widely and bounced a little in her seat.
"That sounds completely awesome, Edward."
He smiled happily and started their drive into the city. Just under two hours later, they were nestled in their seats, listening to the final performances of the day for the orchestra. Bella sighed and smiled, her eyes closed and facing the sky, as the classical notes of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture swirled around the air. She felt Edward's hand gently begin to play with her hair and she bit her lip to stifle a sigh. He had been nothing short of amazing today, and she didn't want their date to come to a close any time soon.
She opened her eyes and turned her face slightly to the left. Edward's fingers still held onto a strand of hair as he smiled down at her.
"Enjoying the concert?" he asked, in a low husky voice. She smiled widely and nodded happily.
"I'm glad. It's been amazing just spending time with you today, Bella. Thank you for coming out with me."
She reached out to squeeze his free hand and sighed once again. "It's been really nice. We still have the rest of the afternoon, right?"
He nodded. "Yes, ma'am. This is over at 2:30, so I was thinking a late lunch, and then a walk around the park. After that, we can play it by ear, okay?"
She nestled her head onto his shoulder and hummed her agreement. When the concert was finished, they surprisingly found a quiet spot under a large tree. Edward took a blanket out of the basket and spread it on the ground. Bella grinned and sat cross-legged while he started to unpack the food. There were a few containers spread about.
"What did you bring, Prince Charming?"
Edward looked up at her with a surprised look.
"You think I'm charming?" he asked with a smirk. She felt her face heat up, and she started to stammer.
"Uh, no, I mean, yes, but that's not what I meant."
She groaned and placed her head in her hands. She felt electricity as his fingers wrapped around hers to pull them away from her face. She looked up into his eyes and saw him smiling warmly at her.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to fluster you. Although your blush is completely entrancing," he said quietly, running a finger over her cheek. She shuddered slightly his finger's path felt burned upon her skin. She watched his tongue as it darted over his top lip, dampening it slightly.
He pulled back and cleared his throat.
"For your dining pleasure, Ms. Swan, we have fruit, pasta salad, water, chips and PB&J for the main course." He winked at her.
"Well, that sounds impressive Mr. Cullen. Did you do this all by yourself?"
She watched his cheeks color slightly and his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed nervously.
"Erm, not exactly. Esme made the pasta salad and Jack made the sandwiches. He said they were your favorite. I just packed everything up."
He smiled sheepishly and shrugged when she laughed. She placed her hand on his forearm and smiled.
"This is really sweet, no matter who made what."
He nodded and looked down her hand on his arm shyly. She pulled away and grabbed a bottle of water and a sandwich.
"So, tell me more about Edward," she said as she got more comfortable.
He popped an olive in his mouth and chewed slowly as he gathered his thoughts.
"There's honestly not that much more to me than what you already know. I'm a workaholic who took the loss of his son very poorly. I cut myself off from everyone and everything that I possibly could." He sighed. "I honestly can't remember what life was like before then sometimes. It's sad because even though my relationship with Victoria was strained at the time, those three years with Jack were the best years of my life. I boxed those memories up and pushed them away to help ease the pain. I need to work on pulling them back at some point."
"Sorry, this isn't first date material," he laughed and smiled sadly.
Bella shook her head.
"No, it's perfect," Bella argued quietly. "It's who you are. None of this is normal in case you haven't realized. You're on a date with your son's adopted mother, who you've only known for a few weeks."
He cocked his head to the side slightly.
"You don't have to say that, you know."
She gave him a quizzical look. "What do you mean?"
"Say you're his adopted mother. I know the situation can be awkward at times, but I think we've established that it is what it is. You're his mom, and no one can change that in his eyes. Not that I would even want to. You've been a wonderful mother to him and he's grown up so well."
He gazed at her intensely before dropping his gaze to the blanket and tracing a pattern on it.
"Have you - I mean, when was the last time you've seen Victoria?" she asked, hesitantly.
His brow furrowed as he thought.
"Two and a half years ago. The day we finalized our divorce."
Bella looked at his in shock. He nodded.
"Yes, Bella, she dragged out our divorce for almost two years, refusing to sign over one issue, and once we ironed that out, she brought up another one. Every time I had to see her face, it was like I was consumed in this fiery pit of hell. I saw Jack and the girl I used to know, but I also saw her betrayal and maliciousness. A part of me blamed her for Jack's disappearance, and then another part of me berated myself for thinking that. If I had had any inkling of what she had actually done, I would've escorted her to her maker in person."
She watched his jaw clench and she wanted nothing more than to change the topic of conversation, but there still a question she need to ask.
She glanced away and gathered up her courage.
"What do you think will happen when Marcus finds out that Jack is alive? Will he tell her?"
Edward shook his head. "I don't know, Bella. If he told you the truth about not seeing her in years, then he might have finally come to his senses. We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there."
Their eyes met, and he must have seen her worry because he reached out to hold her hand.
"Don't worry about her, Bella. She signed away her parental rights to him when we finalized the divorce. She never really wanted to be a mother anyway. I look back on the signs and get so pissed at myself for not seeing it sooner."
"You can't beat yourself up, Edward. Look at it this way, if you had done something sooner, it may still have ended badly for Jack, being in the middle of custody battle. She still might have lost him, but without me to find him."
His eyes shot to hers in horror. "I can't, I can't even think about something like that, Bella. It makes my chest hurt."
"I know, I hate thinking about it, too, but sometimes it can't be helped. You just need to focus on the here and now. Look at the positives. Your son is alive and healthy; happy and loved. The whole future is ahead of us now."
His eyes locked with hers and he smiled.
"Thank you, Bella. You'll never know how much I appreciate everything you've done."
She smiled back at him and shook her head. "I owe you more thanks than you realize, Edward."
He shot her a quizzical look. Bella smiled serenely.
He nodded in understanding. No other words were needed.
When they were finished up lunch, they packed up and dropped the basket off at the car before taking a stroll around the enormous park, hand in hand. Trying to stay away from any heavy topics, they shared stories about their respective childhoods. Hours flew by and before either of them knew it, it was almost five o'clock, so they decided to head back home. When they arrived at the house, Edward stowed the leftover food in the fridge and put the basket away. He pulled a bottle of wine from the fridge and gestured towards her.
"Would you like a glass, Bella?"
"Yes, please," she replied softly.
"Why don't you get comfortable in the living room, and I'll bring them out?"
She nodded and made her way over to the large comfy couch. She sat down and pulled off her boots, waving her feet back and forth to air them out before Edward returned from the kitchen. The last thing she wanted was for a funky smell to ruin the mood. She rolled her eyes and internally scoffed at herself for her cheesiness. She curled her legs under her and leaned back against the couch just as Edward came into the room carrying the glasses in one hand and plate of cheese with crackers in the other. She carefully took hold of the glasses and he set the plate on the table.
The two of them sat and chatted for awhile before Edward took their glasses and sat them on the table.
"Dance with me?" he asked quietly. She smiled shyly.
"Um, I'm kind of uncoordinated. Plus there's no music."
He smirked and pulled out his iPhone and scrolled through a playlist before choosing a song. She smiled widely when she recognized "Unintended" by Muse begin to play. She placed her hand in his and he pulled her close, her arms automatically coming to rest on his shoulders and they began to sway.
"You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
You could be the one I'll always love
You could be the one who listens to my deepest inquisitions
You could be the one I'll always love"
"May I ask you a question?" he inquired softly.
"What did you mean back when you said that you were attacked?"
She played with the collar of his shirt nervously before starting to speak.
"My boyfriend at the time wasn't happy that we hadn't been physical yet, so he started sleeping with my step-sister, Leah, on the side. I mean, somewhere inside, I knew that I didn't love him the way that I should, so it never felt right to take that step with him. Looking back on things, I'm very glad that I didn't, even if it led me to be completely inexperienced, in that way, to this day."
She felt him tense up and looked into his eyes that were full of emotion. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were darkly angry.
She paused and swallowed before continuing. "I decided to break up with him, and he wasn't happy about that, so he tried to force me to comply, including roughing me up physically. Thankfully, Leah showed up and helped me get home. My dad had him arrested, and some of the guys that were friends with him beat the crap out of him when they found out what happened. After that, I pretty much stayed away from the opposite sex, except occasionally going out on dates that Alice had set up."
"First there was the one who challenged
All my dreams and all my balance
She could never be as good as you"
"Where is he now, Bella?" he ground out between clenched teeth. She started to rub his shoulders in comfort and she felt him relax marginally.
"I don't know, but I have a guess. My dad went into over-protective mode and has people keeping tabs on him."
His eyes flashed in annoyance. "Over-protective? He loves you, Bella, and wants you safe. I would have done the same thing. What would you have done if it was Jack that had been hurt by someone?" he asked.
Her heart started to race and her eyes widened, but she answered honestly and without any hesitation.
"I'd find the bastard and kill them."
He chuckled slightly and raised one of his eyebrows. She smiled and shook her head.
"I see what you mean," she laughed. "I guess I never really looked at it from my dad's point of view."
After a moment, he spoke again.
"So, uh, regarding what you said earlier about not, erm, being with anyone, do you mean that you're a, um, virgin?" He stumbled over his words slightly.
She blushed and ducked her head before mumbling yes. He reached up and nudged her chin.
"Don't be embarrassed. It's nothing to be ashamed of. I'm not that much ahead of you. I've only been with Victoria, and the last time was almost six years ago."
He smiled kindly at her and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.
"I'll be there as soon as I can
But I'm busy mending broken pieces of the life I had before "
She moved closer to him and rested her head against his chest as they continued to sway together.
The song slowed and came to a stop, but Edward's arms did not let her go. She pulled back and gazed into his deep green eyes, falling into their depths. Emotions flickered across them that she couldn't quite comprehend. The song's beat soon turned deep and dark. A woman's soulful voice washed over them like silk.
"I was a heavy heart to carry
My beloved was weighed down
My arms around his neck
My fingers laced a crown"
As they continued to sway, Bella's fingers flexed through his hair as one of his hands pressed into the small of her back, bringing her close to him. His other hand worked its way into her hair, at the base of her neck and lowered his face to hers.
"I just want to try something," he whispered. "Stay very still."
Her heart started to beat erratically and fire spread through her veins as his lips gently touched hers and slowly began to move.
"And is it worth the wait
All this killing time?
Are you strong enough to stand
Protecting both your heart and mine?"
After what felt like eons, his tongue swept lightly across her bottom lip, and she opened herself up willingly, wanting to feel more of the emotion that he was evoking in her. Their kiss grew more insistent as their lips sucked and nipped at each other's, almost with abandon as their passion grew.
Bella let out a startled gasp as he pulled her tightly against him. She could feel the bulge of his erection press into her stomach. His fingers gently massaged her neck as his lips continued to work on hers. She had never felt anything like this. Her kisses with Jake had been sloppy and dull in comparison. Her heart had never beaten like this for anyone but Edward. He had changed her and made her open up to him more than she had ever thought was possible. For the first time in five years, she was thinking about herself and not Jack. She was allowing herself to feel and experience.
"I was a heavy heart to carry
But he never let me down
When he held me in his arms
My feet never touched the ground"
Gasping for breath, they pulled apart from each other slightly. Edward rested his forehead against hers and opened his eyes.
"Wow," he whispered, his gaze never leaving hers. She grinned from ear to ear.
He leaned back in and placed another small kiss on her lips and her whole body sighed against him. He pulled her head against his chest and held her close.
"I don't think I've ever felt like this before, Bella. You make my head spin and my chest ache, just by smiling at me."
She looked up at him in surprise. "Really?" she asked incredulously. Not that she was unaware of his attraction to her anymore, but it still somewhat shocked her to know that his feelings were so in tune with hers. He smiled shyly.
"Yes, Bella, absolutely," he whispered.
"I feel exactly the same," she said softly. He hugged her tightly and sighed against her forehead. A moment later, her stomach growled and he laughed.
"How does pizza and a movie sound?" he asked. She beamed up at him and nodded.
"That sounds completely perfect."
Music used in this chapter: Unintended by Muse and Heavy In Your Arms by Florence & The Machine.
First off, I love each and everyone of you. Whether you read and review or just read. You still rock!
Secondly, if everything goes as planned, I'm going to be writing my behind off to get you guys another update on Tuesday, in addition to the Friday one. I'm writing a JackPOV for the Fandom for Preemies compilation and I'd like to story to be caught up to it by the time it's available in November. It might not happen, but there's a good chance for it.