Thanks you for the great response to the last chapter. This chapter will move time along some and I hope you like it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight but I do have tickets to Cubs spring training and I will be able to see my beloved Blackhawks while in AZ also...

The story line and plot is all mine...so that's your warning not to claim it as your own...and if you do I WILL find out...So please don't...Thank You

Special thanks go out to the most fantastic beta in the world Mommakal. My prereaders, Basketgirl, NJNYTwigal-H, TG10781 & HongKongPhooey thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to give me your input. All of you are very special to me in many ways... I love all to death.

Please look at the A/N at the end as there is some important information, thank you


Chapter 20 – Going Home

Just as James had said the last words, I felt a set of gentle lips pressed against my forehead as my hands were squeezed by Edward. Feeling a stronger sensation than normal, I almost didn't want it to end. But it did end when he let go of me and James raised his voice even louder.

"Edward, I asked you what you were doing with my girlfriend?"

Edward turned around quickly and stood between James and me as if he was trying to protect me from him. "James, chill out. Bella was upset over something she heard Jessica and Tanya say about her while she was in the restroom. All I was trying to do was to be a friend and calm her down before she returned to the other room."

"Why didn't you just come get me?" James inquired as he moved to Edward's side and looked at me.

"And leave her here by herself? What if Jessica or Tanya would have come back or someone else would have said similar things without knowing Bella was around? You should have been more attentive to her when she left. Didn't your mother teach you to watch over those you love?" Edward barked through gritted teeth, while keeping his voice low so only James and I could hear him.

"Well I'm here now Edward, so you can go. I'll take care of it, right Sugar?" James grabbed my hand as he pulled me into his side and placed a light kiss on my temple.

I looked up and saw Edward walk away with his shoulders slightly hunched over, as if in defeat. I then looked at James who sported a smug look, like he had just won some type of competition.

"James, please don't be upset with Edward. He truly was just trying to be there for me as a friend," I explained with the hope that I could move on from the two incidents which just happened.

"Bella, don't kid yourself," James began, "He had other ideas, I'm sure. He's always tried to move in on my girls. Even back in high school, he was never able to get what he wanted and had to find excuses to try to move in."

"Can we just stop talking about this? Nothing happened. He was just trying to be a friend and I would just like to leave now."

"Bella, we can't just leave. My mother is in charge of the event and President of the board. People would wonder why."

"But…James…," I stuttered, "You didn't hear what they said about me. They said things that weren't true. They said I didn't deserve to be here. That I wasn't part of this crowd." The more I said, the more tears escaped from my eyes and the harder it became for me to hold back breaking down. All the comfort which Edward had provided seemed like it was being sucked out of me.

James grabbed me by my shoulders and shook them gently while he looked me directly in the eyes. "Pull yourself together. If we are going to make this work long term, you are going to have to learn to stick up for yourself and show others that you are better than they are. You are with me so that automatically will put a target on your back because they all want what you have. Can't you see that? Now go and clean your face up while I wait here for you."

"Okay, just give me a few minutes." I walked back into the ladies room, stepped into a stall until I could get my breathing back to normal and then fixed my make up before returning to James who stared at the Chagall windows.

"I think I'm better now," I whispered into his ear as I stood up on my toes. "So, aren't they beautiful?"

"They're fine. I just don't get why everyone thinks they are such a big deal. All they are is a bunch of stained glass." I felt some of the courage I had just mustered up drain from me.

"Oh…Well then I guess we should get back so no one wonders where we are." I grabbed his hand and followed him back into the Stock Exchange Trading room. I made sure to stay by his side the rest of the night with the hopes that would show the others there that I did belong.

~o0o~

The next few weeks were interesting to say the least. I continued to see Edward regularly at the coffee shop but he stopped coming out when James and I met up with the others. On the rare occasion that James wasn't around, Edward always seemed to be able to join us at the last minute.

During that time everyone was busy. The holidays were just around the corner. I found myself working as much as I could to get some extra money for gifts. James was busy helping his dad raise money for his campaign for the upcoming election in February.

As I looked back, it just seemed like something had changed after we all attended the Gala. James was more attentive; no matter where we were he would hold my hand or have his arm around me and pulled into his side. When I wasn't working he took me to events for his father. He always told those we met that I was the one for him and that there would never be anyone else in the world.

One night on the rare occasion when neither of us had anything to do, we sat on the couch to watch a movie.

"So Sugar, what are you planning on doing for Christmas?"

"Umm, probably what I always do. I'll leave around noon on Christmas Eve and take the train to my dad's. We will spend Christmas Day with the Blacks and then just relax until Rose and Alice come for some rest in the country between then and New Years day. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I was hoping you would spend the holiday with my family?" It seemed to be more of a statement then a question.

"Really?" I inquired, somewhat surprised. Why would he want me to spend time with him and his family when his mother obviously doesn't care for me. "I don't know if I can do that. It's been so long since I've seen my father. I wasn't able to go see my father for Thanksgiving due to them being short handed at the shop." I looked over at James and saw a frown on his face.

"I've got an idea. Why don't you come with me? You need to meet him anyway and you could use a break." I smiled and bounced some as I thought about how much fun it would be for him to see where I grew up and that side of me.

"Bella, I can't be away that week. The race is starting to heat up and my father needs me to handle his day to day business so he can focus on campaigning. You need to be more aware of what is going on with it. There are only two months until Election Day." He said in a belittling tone.

"Sorry, it was just an idea," I whispered sheepishly. "But I do need to go see him. I'm all he has since my mother died. I just can't leave him alone for the holidays. I'm sorry, but I have to go. Is there any way you could come down just for one day even? I want you to meet him," I pleaded and looked up at him.

He looked down to me in return and softly smiled before he responded, "Sugar, you have no idea how much I would love to do that, but it's just not going to be possible. If it wasn't election season I would be there in a heartbeat. The minute the election is over we can go and see him, or better yet, we can take him on vacation somewhere. I know this whole election thing is new but in time it will become second nature to you." He then leaned down and gently captured my lips with his.

The rest of the night I spent wrapped safely in his arms as he talked to me about our future. I couldn't believe that he had actually looked that far ahead since I had only known him for three months. He talked about his aspirations to follow in his father's footsteps to become the mayor of Chicago. He hoped one day the city would be his. He wanted everyone to know that I was his. He wanted me to be the best known woman in the city and to show the others how I belonged.

It was hard for me to wrap my head around what he was saying. Why me? Why not someone else? I wasn't high society, I wasn't that pretty and I wasn't from the city.

~o0o~

The morning of Christmas Eve, I woke up early for my shift at Uncommon Grounds with James' arms draped over me. James had spent the night again using the excuse that he wouldn't see me for the next seven days. I tried to move slowly and get out of bed without disturbing him. He made a quick movement and hugged me tighter. He then peppered my neck with gentle kisses. Every time he stayed, he would make it harder for me to get out of bed and get ready for work by kissing me or keeping me in a tight hold. I understood that he didn't want me to go, but it annoyed me some. He knew I had to get to work and that I would have gladly stayed if I could.

"Sugar, where do you think you're going?"

"I have to get ready for work James...you know that."

"Just call in sick babe, or if you don't want to do it, I'll do it for you. I just can't let go of you now knowing I won't see you until you get back on New Year's Eve," he whined into my ear. Then he gently sucked my earlobe into his mouth which was something he knew I enjoyed.

Since I had decided to go to see my father, we had compromised that I would be back for New Years Eve and James promised to host a party for our group of friends at his place. He even promised that Edward would be invited. I had figured as much since Tanya was also on the guest list.

"Babe, you know I need to go. I need to open and it's not fair to Angela since I will be gone, and she will have to both open and close during those days."

"Okay then," he huffed as he grabbed the blanket and pulled them off of me in a dramatic fashion. "You go and have a good time at work while I lay here all alone in this nice warm bed."

I sat up on the side of the bed and leaned back to kiss his cheek. "You have a good day yourself. I'll see you on the thirty first. Oh, and your Christmas gift will be waiting for you on the table by the door."

I started to stand and he grabbed my hand and pulled me back to him, kissing me hard. "Sugar, I don't have yours with me and I thought we would open them together when you got back."

"If that's what you want then we can do that, but I wanted you to have something from me to open on Christmas morning. It's your choice on if you actually open it or not." I gave him a quick peck on the lips and got out of bed.

~o0o~

Christmas Eve with my dad was like it had always been. We went to evening service and then went to the Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner. I know, Chinese for Christmas Eve dinner... it became our tradition since I never get home on time to make dinner and it was the only thing open.

Christmas day was spent at the Black's. Sue and Billy were like an aunt and uncle to me and Jake, their son, was like the little brother I never had. It was always a little awkward since my father and Billy had always hoped Jake and I would marry one day. They hoped their two farms would merge, resulting in the biggest farm in the county.

On Christmas day, I received a number of text messages with holiday greetings and sentiments. Rose, of course, was the first. She sent it right after she got up and opened the surprise I had left for her. It was something small, but I knew that both she and Emmett would enjoy it.

Alice was next. Instead of one text message she sent me five, because there was no way Alice could say anything in less than 100 words.

Then once they were both at the Cullen's, I got messages from Emmett, Jasper, Edward, Carlisle and Esme. I couldn't believe in such a short period of time how close I had gotten to them all.

Finally around five o'clock, just as we headed back to my father's house my phone vibrated again. I fetched it quickly from my pocket and looked down at the screen and saw a number I didn't recognize.

Merry Christmas B ~

I hope that Santa brought you everything you had hoped for this year. If not, there is a little something that was sent to your father's house that should have arrived by special carrier while you were gone.

~E

Was this the same 'E' who had sent me gifts before? What did he mean by special carrier? It was Christmas no one worked on Christmas. How did he know where my father lived? How did he know that we were gone?

We walked up to the front door. There sitting on the porch was a plain brown box addressed to a Ms. Isabella Marie Swan. The return address was Tiffany & Co., Chicago, IL.

Once I saw where it was from, my heart started to race. Why did he send me a gift again? Why was he still in the background and not introducing himself to me? What if James found out? How many of these gifts could I keep from him?

~o0o~

The following afternoon Alice and Rose arrived and informed me that the boys would be here within the hours also.

"Bella, I hope you don't mind but Emmett kept complaining that he couldn't live five days without his Rose fix. He gave me those puppy dog eyes and you know I can never say no to those."

"Then Jasper chimed in telling me that he never gets to see me because he's on the road so much, so since Emmett was coming I figured what the hell," Alice spewed out before I could even comment on Rose's revelation.

"That's fine you guys. I'm sure my dad will love having a couple of extra guys around. But you know he's old fashion so the guys will be sleeping in separate rooms from us." I chuckled as I saw the looks on their faces. It was if I had taken away their favorite toy they had gotten as a child for Christmas. "Come on, let's go and get the blow up mattresses set up in the spare room."

About an hour later I heard a car pull up and then the slamming of doors. Not two, but three. Did they bring someone else with them? I walked over to the front door to see and opened it.

"Hey there Bella, happy day after Christmas!" he exclaimed before pulling me into one of his amazing hugs.

"Edward…I didn't know you were coming also."

"He didn't either until he came back from his run this morning." Emmett said interrupting us, "Now how about you let her go Edward and let me give my little sister here a Christmas hug."

"Sure bro, I'll go help Jasper get the bags from the car."

About fifteen minutes later the car was unloaded. They had brought enough food and beer as if the apocalypse was about to happen. In addition to food, they brought an outdoor fire place, sleeping bags, tents and other things.

"Did you guys think my father owned a one room home and that we didn't have indoor plumbing?" I questioned and giggled as they started to place everything onto the porch.

"No Bella Boo, we just didn't want to look like we were imposing," Emmett said as he bumped shoulders with me.

"Well you won't need much of that stuff since Rose and Alice are just finishing setting up the spare room which is where you will be staying. They'll crash in my bedroom with me." I said matter of fact as Edward started to laugh.

"I told you guys there was no way you were going to live out your fantasy of having sex with your girls in their best friend's parent's house. Now pay up!"

"Sorry guys, but that's the way it's gonna be and don't even think of trying to sneak off somewhere or you might end up with a shot gun up your ass." As I finished I took one look at Edward and started to laugh more than I had in months. Emmett and Jasper looked twice as disappointed as Rose and Alice did when I informed them of the news. Once Edward and I were able to catch our breath we moved the food and beer into the house as Emmett and Jasper put the other stuff back into back of Emmett's Explorer.

~o0o~

Emmett stayed true to his word and cooked dinner. He banished us all from the kitchen since he was making his secret chili recipe. The five of us, along with my father, decided to play a friendly game of cards.

Once the chili was done, we sat around the dining room table and enjoyed the meal he had prepared. We talked about so many different things, but most of all we laughed. My father enjoyed sharing embarrassing stories about me growing up while the guys enjoyed doing the same about each other.

The girls helped me with the dishes and the guys went into the family room and began to watch one of the college bowl games. Just as Rose had dried the last dish and put it away, I heard what sounded like the slamming of a car door outside.

At that instant my heart sank. It couldn't be could it?


Who could it be? I wonder...

Hopefully you all enjoyed the update. If you did or didn't the way to let me know is by leaving a review.

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I will update as quickly as possible. I will be traveling over the next few weeks for business and am not sure how much time I will have to write or how the airplanes will affect my dizziness. But I promise I will try my best to get it to you as quickly as possible.

Finally:

I want everyone to know that I am submitting an OT from Angela's POV for Fandom Gives Back for Autism. If you haven't donated already please go and for as little as $5 you can get over 100 OS, OT or original shorts from many fandom authors including mine! Got check it out at www(.)Fandomsgivesback(.)blogspot(.)com

Thank you again for reading!

~ChiTwiGal