Six weeks later, Emmett still hadn't found the perfect time to propose. Each time he thought he'd planned for the right moment, something would happen to make him keep the ring in his pocket.
There was the romantic dinner, which was completely thrown off course when Bella couldn't shake off her bad day at work. Emmett tried to make the argument with himself that a proposal would definitely cheer her up, but in the end, the ring stayed in his pocket that night.
Then there was the romantic weekend getaway. Emmett wound up spending the entire weekend in bed with a case of food poisoning caused by an ill-advised stop at a roadside tamale stand on their way out of town.
After that, Emmett decided to scrap the "romantic" plans, and tried to plan something around a family event. Bella's dad was joining Emmett's family for the annual Labor Day/End of Summer barbeque and Emmett couldn't imagine a better time. Then Alice and Jasper announced that Alice was pregnant, and Emmett didn't even want to try to horn in on that particular spotlight.
Tonight had been his fourth failed attempt. Having scrapped the idea of making a production at all out of the proposal, Emmett decided that a quiet movie night at Bella's apartment was the perfect opportunity. Bella, on the other hand, decided that it was the perfect opportunity to fall asleep curled against Emmett's side.
After a particularly disastrous Sunday morning three months earlier, they had come to an agreement that only questions of four words or less, with a "yes" or "no" answer were acceptable in the first thirty minutes after Bella woke up. Somehow, Emmett didn't think "Will you marry me?" counted, even if it did technically meet the criteria.
With a sigh, Emmett clicked off the television and tried to rouse Bella. The ring in his pocket felt like it weighed ten pounds.
"Babe, come on. Time for bed." Emmett shook Bella's shoulder lightly, but she only snuggled deeper into his side. Groaning, Emmett tried again.
"Bella," he cajoled, "let's go. I'll tuck you in."
Bella flopped dramatically onto the couch and squinted at Emmett out of one eye.
Emmett couldn't help but laugh out loud. He stood and pulled Bella up, wrapping his arms around her when she was finally standing.
"I know. I don't know why you put up with me." He steered her towards the bedroom, leaning down to kiss her neck.
"It's because you're pretty," Bella said, yawning. "Stay with me?"
"Depends. Are you going to share the pillows this time?"
"Probably not, but if you're a very good boy, you might get to see my boobs."
"You've got yourself a deal, Miss Swan."
As far as consolation prizes go, Emmett thought, boobs are pretty awesome.
The next morning, Emmett woke up with a start to Bella's alarm clock. He slapped the snooze button and struggled to sit up. Bella was wrapped around the left side of his body, and she grumbled out a protest as he shifted around.
"Don't wanna get up," Bella mumbled, burying her face in her pillow.
"Yeah, me either." Looking blearily around the room, Emmett realized that Bella had, once again, managed to gain control of all but a corner of one pillow over the course of the night. Closing his eyes and leaning back against the headboard, Emmett tried to gear up to face the day.
The next thing he knew, he had a lap full of Bella, and the aroma of coffee drifted from the nightstand.
"What the..." Glancing at the clock, Emmett realized that over an hour had passed. "Holy fucking shit, Bella. We're late!"
"Yeah, about that..." Bella trailed off, looking up at him through her eyelashes. "You looked a little flushed this morning."
"What?" The fog of sleep lingered, making it hard for Emmett to follow a train of thought.
"I may have called your secretary and told her you were sick."
"I'm not sick."
Bella rolled her eyes. "You're adorable when you're confused." Grinning, she pulled her tank top over her head.
Understanding dawned on Emmett's face. "You know, now that you mention it, I was feeling sick this morning."
"Uh huh," Bella agreed, leaning down to nibble on his jaw line.
"No one needs to know about my miraculous recovery."
"It'll be our secret."
An hour later, Emmett was showering while Bella made breakfast. Whistling, he turned off the shower and nearly jumped out of his skin when he pulled the shower curtain open. Bella leaned casually against the bathroom counter, her arms crossed over her chest and an unreadable expression on her face.
"Sweet blessed mother of...what are you doing, Bella?" Emmett tried to will his heart to stop racing as he reached for a towel, never taking his eyes off of Bella.
Wordlessly, she held out her hand, and Emmett's heart stuttered before picking up the pace again. There in her palm, glinting in the light, was the ring. When Emmett finally made eye contact with her, Bella had lifted one eyebrow in a silent question.
"It's not what it looks like," he offered lamely.
"Really? Because it looks like an engagement ring."
"Oh. Well then, it is what it looks like."
"Why is there an engagement ring on my bedroom floor, Emmett?"
"It must have fallen out of my pants. Wow. Note to self: Pants pocket, not a secure storage location for jewelry."
Bella's mouth was moving, but for a minute, no sound came out. When she finally found her voice, it seemed to kick in halfway through a sentence.
"...trying to be maddening? 'It must have fallen out of my pants.' What the hell, Emmett?"
"I'm sorry, okay? When I pictured this in my head, I wasn't naked, and you weren't mad! Just...can you...can I have a minute, here?" Emmett shook his head and scrubbed his hands over his face. Wow, and I thought it was a bad idea to propose when she was half-asleep? Wish I had a time-turner...
"No! No, you cannot just 'have a minute,' you weirdo. What do you mean 'When I pictured this in my head?' You've got some explaining to do. I can't even..." Bella trailed off, and the hilarity of the situation finally hit Emmett.
Laughing, he crossed the small bathroom and plucked the ring out of Bella's hand. Setting it on the counter behind her, he smoothed her hair back with one hand and tilted her chin up with the other. The tears flashing in her eyes stopped his laughter short.
"Baby? Are you...mad at me? For having a ring in my pocket?"
"No. Yes! Maybe." Bella buried her face in Emmett's chest and sniffled. "I don't understand."
"Which part don't you understand?"
"Why was it in your pocket? Did you change your mind?"
"What? No! You fell asleep! Oh my God, Bella, is that why you're upset?"
"Well, what else was I supposed to think?" Bella was indignant, but then she pulled away with a start. "Oh. OH! You want to marry me? You want to marry me, and I missed the proposal because I fell asleep?"
"Yes. And you didn't miss the proposal, you just postponed it a little. It's not actually the first time that's happened."
Suddenly, Bella's hands were in his hair, pulling him down until her lips were on his mouth. And then, just as suddenly, she was laughing.
Baffled, Emmett pulled away.
"What's so funny?"
Bella wiped away tears and grinned up at him.
"I can't wait to tell your sister that you proposed to me naked, in the bathroom."
Deciding to make the most of their impromptu day off, Bella and Emmett decided to take the train into the city. It was one of those perfect fall days, the brilliant blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds. While they waited on the platform, Emmett caught Bella holding her hand out, seeing how her ring sparkled in the light.
"So, you like it?"
"The ring, goof. Do you like it?"
Shifting so that she was standing directly in front of Emmett, Bella looped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. "I love it. It's perfect, and I have no idea how you managed to go out and buy a ring without me knowing."
"Well, about that...I didn't exactly 'go out and buy a ring.' It was my Grandma Cullen's ring."
Speechless, Bella laid her left hand on Emmett's chest and stared at the ring. It was one thing to decide to propose to your girlfriend, but entirely another to actually see the ring on her finger.
Emmett's chuckle broke her out of her reverie, and he crouched down to look directly into her eyes. "Why the look of awe? Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that you like it, but at the end of the day, it's just a ring. If you hate it, I'll just go get you something else."
"It's not 'just a ring' Emmett! It's...your family is okay with this?"
"Well, right now, Dad is the only one who knows, but...it's my ring. They don't really get a say. And they adore you, so of course they're fine with it."
"Just...what if...Alice? Edward? I don't..." Bella looked dazed, and Emmett was grateful that the train was pulling up to the platform. Having the rest of this conversation sitting down seemed like a good plan.
Steering Bella onto the train, Emmett was relieved to see that the car was mostly empty. He didn't really care who overheard their conversation, but Bella wasn't a huge fan of having an audience for these things. Once they were seated and the train was moving, he turned to face her.
"Babe, listen. Alice and Edward are already married, and even if they weren't, Grandma Cullen left her ring to me, not them. " When Bella tried to interrupt, he fixed her with a stare. "They adore you, Bella. I don't know what happened in the last two hours to make you suddenly doubt that my family will be anything but thrilled about this, but I promise, no one is going to be upset that you're wearing Grandma's ring. So what's really going on in your head?"
"My dad...he gave my mom his grandma's ring. And obviously, that didn't work out so well for them. But Renee never gave the ring back. Well, I think she was going to, but she lost it in one of our moves, or something. Anyway, it's been a point of contention for as long as I can remember. I just...don't want to be a point of contention."
Gathering Bella in his arms, Emmett sighed and placed a kiss on the top of her head. "You're not Renee."
"I know, usually. It was just unexpected, I guess."
"Bella, really, if it bothers you, we'll go pick something else out. I don't want you to look at your ring and be anything but happy."
Bella snatched her hand back and levelled Emmett with a stare. "Uh uh! No way. I'm not giving it back. I love it! Don't make me give it back!"
"You do realize that you're insane, right?"
Bella kissed his nose and laughed. "Yes. But now you're morally obligated to put up with it. Forever."
"Awesome." Emmett's smile contradicted his sarcastic tone.
Snuggling deeper into Emmett's side, Bella rubbed her hands together and let out a little squeal.
"This is going to be so great. I can finally let myself go! Hey, you don't mind if we adopt like, twelve cats, right? Ooooh. I should call Renee, we could have her do a smudging ceremony on your house before I move in. I know she won't-"
Emmett cut her off with a kiss. "Does this mean I can finally take my Star Wars collectible figurines out of hiding?"
Three days later, Bella stopped Emmett on their way up the walkway to his parents' house.
"Emmett! We can't just walk in there. They're going to know! Oh my God, we should have just told them over the phone."
"They aren't mind-readers, Bella. How would they know?"
With a look of exasperation, Bella held her left hand up.
"Oh. Shit." Looking around furtively, Emmett held out his hand. "Here. Give me the ring."
"What? I didn't mean for you to take it back, Emmett!"
"I'm not taking it back, I'm hiding it! We'll tell them over dinner, and then you can put the ring back on. Otherwise, you're right, they're going to notice right away."
"Okay, fine. Just...take care of it. I don't want anything happening to it."
"Woman, I was taking care of this ring just fine before. You have nothing to worry about." Emmett slipped the ring into his pocket, and they made their way to the door.
"Yeah," Bella said, just under her breath, "took care of it so well it wound up on my bedroom floor."
"Hey! That was an extenuating circumstance. Now drop it and act normal!"
Walking into the house, they could hear the happy sounds of a family dinner coming from the direction of the kitchen. Realizing that this likely meant that Edward had beaten him to the appetizers, Emmett took off at a sprint, practically dragging Bella behind him.
"No fair starting without us!" Emmett cried when he skidded through the doorway. Eight heads turned to stare at him. Unashamed, Alice popped another deviled egg into her mouth. Peter stifled a laugh, and Edward smirked.
"Rose, Peter! I didn't realize you were coming. It's so nice to see you." Bella slid into the room around Emmett, trying to gloss over the fact that Emmett was too busy pouting to greet anyone.
Happy chaos ensued, with Emmett and Alice fighting over the last of the deviled eggs. "The baby likes eggs, Emmett. You don't want to be responsible for depriving a growing child of essential nutrients, do you?"
"Whatever, Alice, the kid weighs like, four ounces. Give up the eggs, Shortie."
"Okay," Esme said, stepping in between her warring children, "appetizer time is over. Alice, honey, could you go set the table?"
"But Mom, I'm pregnant!"
"Yes, dear, we know." Esme's voice was dry. "However, if memory serves me correctly, pregnancy does not render one's arms useless. Carlisle, honey, has pregnancy changed in the last thirty years?"
Carlisle held his hands up in mock surrender, and Bella and Rose stepped forward.
"Come on, Alice, we'll help," Rose cajoled.
"Yeah," Bella added, linking arms with Alice. "Plus, you can totally lick Emmett's plate or something. It'll be our little secret."
Giggling, the three women headed into the dining room. A few minutes later, everyone else joined them, carrying serving plates and drinks. As they were sitting down, Emmett leaned over to Bella and stage whispered "Alice didn't really lick my plate, did she?"
"No. Your plate made it to the table unmolested." As Emmett sighed in relief, Bella couldn't help but add playfully, "Your fork, however, may need counseling."
Taking pity on Emmett, Bella swapped his fork with hers. She tried to be stealthy about it, but nothing got by Alice. Or Esme. Or Tanya. Or Rose.
"Aww, Emmie. I think Bella's sweet on you," Alice cooed, only a little annoyed that Bella had ruined her revenge.
"I don't know, Alice. Maybe I'm sweet on you. I did take the fork with your spit all over it, after all," Bella teased.
Edward shot Emmett a look from across the table, while everyone else laughed. "Emmett, man, keep her, okay? I can't imagine that there's another woman on the planet who would put up with not only you, but also the rest of us."
Emmett gulped. He finally had the perfect opening.
"Yeah. About that. Could I have everyone's attention for just a minute?" Amazingly, the table fell silent. All eyes on him, Emmett pressed forward. "We...I...well..." he trailed off, suddenly at a loss for words. "I asked Bella to marry me."
There was a gasp, and the attention in the room shifted to Bella, and her unadorned left hand. After an uncomfortable beat of silence, Rosalie spoke up.
"Did she say no?"
"What?" Bella sounded almost angry at the idea. "Of course I said yes! Why would you even..." Her words trailed off as she followed everyone's line of sight to her hand. "Oh. That. Emmett? Can I have my ring back now?"
The good news out of the way, dinner was a happy chorus of laughter and good-natured teasing. Bella's fears about taking a family heirloom were forgotten when Carlisle pulled her to the side after dinner.
"I'm glad that he finally worked up the courage to ask you, Bella. My mother would be thrilled to see her ring on your hand." Seeing the blush spreading across her cheeks, Carlisle pulled Bella in for a quick hug. "Now, let's get back in there, before Esme and Alice get too many ideas about planning this wedding."
In the end, Bella and Emmett planned most of their wedding themselves. Neither of them wanted a grand affair, preferring instead to keep things simple.
Twenty minutes before the ceremony, Bella was sitting alone in Carlisle and Esme's bedroom. Renee, Esme, Alice and Angela had helped her get ready, but one by one, they had slipped quietly from the room. Angela was doing double-duty, standing as Bella's Maid of Honor and catering the reception, and she had to check on just a few last minute details. Alice scooted away at the same time, needing to check on the baby. Esme left soon after, claiming that she needed to get downstairs to greet guests, but Bella suspected she really wanted a few final minutes with Emmett.
Renee slipped out when Charlie stuck his head in the door, looking for his own chance to dispense some words of advice.
"It's not too late, Bells," he joked. "I can make a call and have a cruiser waiting for you in no time."
"Thanks Dad, but I think I'll take my chances."
"I figured you'd say that. Since you're going through with it and all, I thought you might like to wear this." Sheepishly, he held out the hand he'd been holding behind his back. Dangling from his fingers was a simple pearl necklace. "I mean, I don't know anything about fashion, or what goes with what, and you've probably had your stuff all picked out for awhile now but...it was your Grandma Marie's, and I just thought..."
Bella cut him off, flinging her arms around his neck. "I love it! Of course I'll wear it. Help me put it on?" Tears sparkling in her eyes, she turned and lifted her hair. Once the necklace was secure, she turned back to him, a huge smile on her face. "Thank you. Not just for the necklace. For...being you. For everything."
Gathering her into a hug, Charlie tried to hide the quaver in his own voice. "I'm real proud of you, Bella. Emmett's a lucky man." Pulling away, he fixed her with one final stare. "I'll be waiting for you at the bottom of those stairs. Just remember, no time at all."
Tugging Charlie back for one last hug, Bella whispered in his ear, "Love you, Daddy."
Now, standing at the window and looking out at the people gathering in the backyard, Bella was overcome by a sense of peace. Her reverie was broken by a knock at the door.
"Come in," she called out, wondering who else there could possibly be who needed to have one last, quick conversation with her.
"Umm, I kind of can't." Emmett's whisper barely reached her through the door.
"Emmett! What are you doing up here? You're supposed to be...I don't know, reflecting on your last moments of bachelorhood, or doing shots with Edward and Jasper, or having a last-minute tryst with a bridesmaid, or something!"
"Jasper's off helping Alice with some last minute diaper emergency, Edward is 'checking the acoustics'-whatever that means, and I swear, I tried to start a little somethin' somethin' up with Ange, but she wasn't into it. No wonder I'm so eager to leave my bachelorhood behind."
Bella laughed. "Do you have any idea how ridiculous we must look, standing on opposite sides of a door, having a nonsense conversation?"
"I don't care. I just wanted to talk to you."
"I'm glad. But you better get out of here, before Esme catches you."
"I'm more worried about Alice catching me. She's probably got some weird superstition about the groom talking to a door before the ceremony."
"Nah, don't worry about it. I think that superstition only holds true if the bride doesn't already know that the groom is insane."
"Makes sense. Okay. I'm gonna go. I'll see you down there?"
"I wouldn't miss it."
In front of their friends and family, Bella and Emmett vowed to love, cherish, and honor one another. As the sun set on a beautiful day, their guests dined on seared eggplant topped with tomato and goat cheese. Dr. Cullen delighted the guests with his flawless Running Man. Not to be outdone, Jasper made a valiant attempt at doing the Sprinkler. The Baby Bjorn he was wearing probably messed with his flow, but no one seemed to mind.
"Whatcha thinkin' about up there, fella?" Bella asked with a grin, as she and Emmett spun languidly on the dance floor.
"Just trying to figure out how a guy like me wound up with the prettiest girl in the room."
"Not gonna lie, I'm pretty sure it was the super powers."
A/N: This story would not exist without Minerva_May_I and AccioBourbon. They hold my hand and make it look like I know what I'm doing. Any errors that remain are mine. TheHeartofLife is a wonderful cheerleader, and doles out sage life advice. (She also does a mean Sprinkler.) I would truly be lost without the three of them, and there aren't enough words to express how much I love them, or how deeply grateful I am that I get to call them my friends.
Thank you to anyone who stuck around and left this on alert. It just didn't quite feel finished to me before. And now, it does. This is really, really the end. For real.