A/N: Thank you thank you thank you thank you a million times to RachelFish for her help with this. You're an absolute doll, my friend.
And thank YOU for reading this. It's been fun to write, and I'm so happy people enjoy reading it. There will be a couple of outtakes posted soon, so it's not technically the *complete* end of these two.
A good song for this chapter: "Your Love Is Forever" (the Ben Bridwell version)
Sneak Peek: "Let's make it official."
Unloading and loading suitcases, parking and fetching cars, and giving directions to tourists isn't the hardest job in the world. But it is pretty tiring. I started my job a couple of weeks into the new year, and it was fine until classes started back up. The hours aren't bad, but I have to work the odd night shift, giving me only a few hours of sleep before I have to drag my ass out of bed and get to class. The saving grace is the class I share with Bella. It's my one early morning class, and walking into the room and seeing her face—if I don't have the night off and am able to wake up next to her and walk to class with her—is enough to perk me up more than a cup of coffee ever could.
A month and a half into the spring semester, I've got a nice little routine going, even if my work hours aren't always the same. On days when I don't have to work, we lounge around the house—usually hers—or go out for dinner and drinks. Sometimes we go out to do photo shoots for class. I love taking pictures of her. She was self-conscious at first, but she's incredibly photogenic. Not a surprise, since she's fucking gorgeous. She didn't believe me until she saw herself through my eyes. Much to her chagrin, my first project was a set of photos of her. Just her face in different light. She loved them and thought I had some sort of magic touch. No way. It's all her.
If I work at night, I cram my homework in between classes and get as much done as possible so I can nap in the afternoon. If I work during the day, I do homework side by side with Bella—sometimes on the couch, sometimes in the library. Then we go to bed together. Some nights I ravish her, and she takes it greedily. Other nights we take it slow, exploring languidly and finding new places, new heights every time. My girl gives as good as she gets. Maybe even better.
Tonight, I'm surprising her. Well, the surprise is for Alice, really, but Bella hasn't been let in on the secret. She can't keep one to save her life, as long as it's good news. Neither can Emmett, for that matter. Jasper has been gone for almost a month, and though he isn't due back for another week, he called Rose a couple of nights ago to tell her he was coming home early. He wanted to surprise Alice, so we set it all up. It makes me happy that he cares so much for my sister. So here I am, leading a tired, disheveled Jasper up the staircase to Bella's apartment, where the girls are supposedly having a sleepover. I hand over my keys so he can be the first inside, but the guy's so tired that he drops them before he can unlock the door.
"Fucking hell," he mutters. I laugh quietly as he fumbles with the key in the lock. When he finally opens the door, two shocked faces are already turned toward us. Rose looks very pleased with herself, even if all she did was call me to arrange it. Alice wastes no time sprinting across the room and flinging herself at Jasper.
My eyes seek out Bella immediately, and that relieved, at-home feeling washes over me like it always does when we've been apart. We smile at each other, and I know she feels the same thing. I sit next to her on the couch, putting my arm around her and pressing my lips to the side of her head.
Jasper's suddenly got a second wind, apparently, and he laughs as Alice squeals and babbles excitedly. "I thought you wouldn't be home for another week!"
"I finished up early and thought I'd surprise you," he says. "I only told Rose and Edward." He looks over at Bella and winks. She just shrugs and grins sheepishly, knowing full well why she wasn't let in on the secret.
"What are you doing here?" Bella asks me. "I thought you were working tonight."
"I picked up Jasper from the airport. You're not mad I kept it from you, are you?"
"Of course not," she says. "I'm really glad you're here."
"Well," says Rose, "I guess I'll drive these two home before they attack each other in the middle of the living room."
The goodbyes are short and sweet, and suddenly it's just Bella and me alone on the couch.
"This is nice," she says. "Having you here for two whole nights during the week. I almost don't know what to do with myself."
I give her a lusty grin. "I know exactly what to do with you."
"I'm sure you do—" she says, but my lips take hers before she can finish.
It's not slow this time. It's eager and wanton. My tongue and hands work her over, and I lower her down to the couch cushions as we clumsily shed clothing. We're both naked and ready in no time flat. She pushes on my chest, and I wonder what's wrong, but the wicked glint in her eye tells me what she wants. I sit up, and she crawls onto my lap, reaches down to line us up, and sinks down on me slowly. My head falls back and I groan as she starts a quick rhythm. She kisses my neck, brushes of soft lips followed by licks and bites.
I love it like this, seeing her over me, hands gripping my shoulders, gorgeous tits bouncing in front of my face. I smooth my hands over her back, grab her ass, clutch her hips and yank her down harder as I push up. Move with her. Taste her. Feel her around me. She leans forward with her forehead on my shoulder, and with a gasp and a muffled shout, she comes, squeezing me deep inside, making me come, too. She moans and pants against my lips, and I'm done for.
Hard kisses and nips turn to soft brushes of lips as we slow to a stop. She rises and falls against my chest with my heavy breaths, and we're both damp with sweat thanks to the fire burning in the fireplace. I hold her hair up off her neck and blow on it to cool her down.
"I love you, Bella," I say softly. I drop her hair and run my hands through it. "So much."
"Love you, too," she whispers. "More than anything."
We stay tangled together as long as we can before moving becomes a necessity. She disappears into the bathroom, and I find my boxers and pull them on before going to her bedroom. I'm excited about having the night off. Even if I have to work in the morning, I get to wake up with Bella, and that makes it better.
The bathroom door opens, and Bella smiles when she sees me sitting on the bed. She comes to me and kisses the top of my head as my arms go around her waist. "Can you stay?" she asks.
"I was counting on it," I tell her. "I packed a bag."
She laughs—it sounds so carefree—and goes to pull a t-shirt from a dresser drawer. "Now why'd you have to go and do that?" I ask as she pulls it over her head. "I like you naked." The shirt is one of mine, one I've been searching for. I wonder when she pilfered it, but I can't find it in me to care. It looks much better on her than it ever did on me.
She laughs again and shakes her head as she climbs into bed beside me. "Do you have to work tomorrow?"
"Yes," I say with a groan. "At five. Will it bother you if I'm up that early?"
"Nope," she says and reaches over to set the alarm. "At least you'll get a few more minutes of sleep since don't have to drive so far."
"I have the whole weekend off," I tell her as I gather her in my arms. "A new guy started. We voted for more days off instead of shorter shifts."
"That's good news." She covers a giant yawn with her hand. "Sorry. It was a long day with Alice and Rose."
I chuckle at her aggravated tone. "It's nice Jasper was able to come home early."
"Yeah," she says. "She missed him a lot."
"I know. I've missed you lately, and you didn't even go anywhere."
"Aww. I've missed you, too," she says, squeezing her arms around me. "You'd better get to sleep. You have to get up in, like—" She raises her head to look at the clock again. "—five hours." She makes a disgusted face, and I laugh.
"I'm kind of getting used to it," I say. We snuggle in, but I can't pass up the opportunity to have her naked body against mine while we sleep. I take her bottom lip between mine as I move my hands up her back, under her shirt, creeping the hem up higher and higher until I'm able to pull it over her head. Then I lock my arms tightly around her and pull her in for sleep. "Good night," I murmur, satisfied and comfortable. "I love you."
She snickers and shakes her head as much as she can while squished against my chest. "I love you, too."
On a Saturday a few weeks later, I go straight to Bella's after work, like I usually do when I work the day shift. "Honey, I'm home!" I call out like Desi in I Love Lucy.
She runs to the door and throws her arms around me. "I missed you," she says. I don't think I've ever seen her quite this enthusiastic about me just walking into the room.
I put my backpack down by the front door and pull her in with my hands on the small of her back. "You just saw me this morning."
She shrugs and clings tighter, so I back her into the living room and guide her down to the sofa with me. I'm beat. I put my arms around her as I close my eyes and lean back.
"How was your day?" she asks.
"Uh…well…I went for a run earlier."
"I wish I had more time to run with you," I say, opening my eyes again. But there's something wrong. The skin around her eyes is the lightest shade of pink, and they look a little swollen. "Bella?"
"Have you been crying?"
"A little," she says.
I sit up quickly and take her by the shoulders, worried that something bad has happened. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, really," she says, stalling. "I talked to Jacob today."
Jacob. A spark of something like jealousy burns through me, but it's gone as soon as it starts. I know better.
"He… Well, I found this picture taped to the door when I got home. It was one of him and me with a note on the back. It made me really angry, so I called him."
She takes one of my hands in hers and traces patterns over the back of it. "I told him I'd never been happier than I am now, and I asked him not to contact me again."
Pure happiness. A tingle warms my chest, and I smile. "Really? I mean about the 'never been happier' part."
"Of course." She sits sideways on my lap and frames my face with her hands. "Edward, no one has ever made me feel as special and loved as you. You've never pushed me for anything, and you let me figure things out for myself." She pauses to kiss me. "I was only afraid to be anything more than your best friend because that's how things started with Jake. I didn't want to lose two friends that way. But it's so different this time. I love you more than anything."
"You're still my best friend," I tell her and rest my forehead against hers. "And the feeling is mutual. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." I brush my lips across hers slowly, but before I can go any further, she breaks the kiss.
"Move in with me," she says.
It's the last thing I expected to hear, but it's also the best thing I've heard all year. "I already stay here most of the time," I say, teasing her.
"Let's make it official," she answers. "Move in with me for real. I want to go to bed with you every night and wake up with you every day. I want you to know you won't disturb me by coming over when you get off work at one in the morning. You'll just be coming home to me."
I know my smile is wide and goofy, but I couldn't care less. "Okay."
"Okay?" she asks.
"The sooner the better."
She throws her arms around my neck excitedly, and I press kisses to her lips, her cheeks, her nose, her neck… "How much time do we have before we have to meet everyone?" I ask.
"Sounds about right," I say, taking her hand and pulling her toward the bedroom.
We join the others later at a bar to see some band Alice's friend is in. I know it's obvious that Bella and I keep throwing these lovesick looks at each other. And I know this because my brother, sister, and friends won't leave us the hell alone. They're asking all these ridiculous questions, and their objectives are achieved. Bella blushes, and I squirm at the notions they toss out. Are we engaged? Is she pregnant? Did we just have sex in the bathroom?
"Hey, congrats on finally getting laid!" Emmett says a little too loudly and whacks me on the back.
"Shut up," I mutter. I don't know why we're the ones suffering the interrogation. Emmett and Rose announced earlier tonight that they've decided to get married a few weeks after graduation. I'm happy for them. Em is wrapped, and Rose is elated. She's been flashing that rock around every chance she gets.
"I'm moving in with Bella," I tell Jasper and Emmett when we go to the bar for drinks.
Jasper laughs and picks up his fresh beer. "Saw that coming."
"Who didn't?" Em agrees, clinking his bottle against mine.
"You suck," I tell them both. They knew this whole time, yet they went on with the teasing.
"C'mon, Eddo," Emmett says, and I cringe at the nickname. "You're there almost every night anyway."
I shrug and pick up my share of the beer and shots of whiskey. Jameson. Bella loves it. I was pretty surprised when she told me that. She tells me these little things from time to time that make me fall even harder for her. We join the girls, who are sitting together and laughing excitedly on the deck out back. Bella takes her beer and whiskey gratefully, and I plant a kiss on top of her head, putting a possessive arm around her waist. We toast Emmett and Rose. The shot of Jameson leaves a pleasant burn in its wake. And it's pretty creepy of me, but I have to admit I get kind of turned on watching Bella tip her shot back with her eyes closed. I watch her swallow, and she wrinkles her nose a bit but follows it up with a big grin and winks at me. I die a little bit inside.
She starts to follow the others back into the bar, but I grab her arm and pull her back to me to give her a light kiss, enjoying the taste of whiskey on her lips. "I love you, Bella," I say, knowing full well that I sound kind of drunk. I am. Drunk on her. "Do you know that?"
My eyes close as she runs a finger down my cheek and across my jaw, then presses it against my lips. "I do know that. Without a doubt. And do you know how much I love you?"
"I do. I'm so glad you decided to take a chance on me."
"There was no decision to be made," she says. "It was just a matter of time, even if I didn't know it at first."
I sort of forget that we're in a public place as I kiss her good and proper. My tongue strokes hers; my teeth nip at her lips. But she pulls away too soon and suggests we join the others.
All I can do is nod and squeeze her hand as she leads me back inside. People are nodding, dancing, singing along to the band covering "Don't Bring Me Down." I chuckle at my sister and her customary enthusiasm as she bounces up and down and shouts the lyrics. Emmett just nods his head to the beat and beams at Rose, who dances along with Alice and Jasper. These people. They're my family. And I don't just mean my brother and sister. All of them. It warms my insides more than any shot of whiskey.
I wrap my arms around Bella from behind and hold her close. She turns her head to the side and kisses my cheek. "Love you," she mouths.
"I love and adore you, Bella Swan," I say lowly in her ear. No matter how many times I say it, it'll never be enough. Never in my life did I think I'd be so completely head over heels for someone. Never did I imagine that I'd meet the girl I want to spend my life with at twenty-three. But I have. She's it for me. I know she is.