Title: All She Wants for Christmas
Summary: Issy Swan is only five, but she knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: her next door neighbor, nineteen-year-old Edward Cullen.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything but the plot! No infringement, yada yada, intended. Stephenie Meyer rules all things of Twilight.
Hogtied like he'd been gift wrapped by a stoned elf, Edward Cullen was positioned directly in front of the Swans' Christmas tree. The family of three stood at the top of the stairs in bathrobes. Their mouths were hanging open, except for little Issy at the front. A beaming grin was on her face that matched the strength of Edward's embarrassment.
"What in tarnation is going on here?" Mr. Swan asked, befuddled.
Edward's answer was muffled by a convenient pile of duct tape across his lips.
Mrs. Swan giggled, because Issy was rushing to him. There was a definite skip to her walk that had everything to do with the handsome teenager that had a big sticker on his forehead that said, "To Issy, from Santa."
"This is so much fun!" Issy squealed. "I'm going take him up to my room and show him all my dolls. Then we can play tea party!"
"Now, now, Issy," Mr. Swan intervened. "I think this boy needs to get back to his own house."
"What? Why? Santa gave him to me."
Edward made more muffled sounds that might have been pleading for them to remove the duct tape, but might have been pleading for a hole to open and swallow him whole.
"I'd better untie him, in any case," Mr. Swan said. "I'm sure the Cullens won't mind if he stays to help Issy open her presents."
"That reminds me! The camera! I need to get a picture first!" Mrs. Swan ran off to get the camera, while Mr. Swan went searching for something to untie the ropes holding Edward in position. Edward groaned in further humiliation. They hadn't even bothered to take off the duct tape across his mouth before leaving him with the spoiled little girl that had gotten him into this mess.
Three Days Before, December 22
Issy Swan had never seen anyone quite as handsome as Edward Cullen. His eyes were greener than her favorite Care Bear, his hair better than Justin Bieber's, and he had just given her a piggy back ride after slipping on the ice in front of her house. She was an average five-year-old, always falling and scraping her knees, hands, or elbows. This just happened to be the first time someone other than her family had come to her rescue.
When Edward dropped her into the waiting arms of her mother, Issy asked, "Will you marry me?" Her scuffed knees were forgotten.
He laughed uproariously. "I think I'm too old for you, Issy."
She batted long lashes at him. "How old are you? 48?"
He laughed even harder, her mother joining him. "You're cute, but I'm only 19." Issy still had little understanding of age, so she grumbled to herself as she counted on her fingers to 19.
Edward turned to her mother to explain why he had brought her young daughter in. Issy stood their impatiently, waiting for the adult conversation to be finished, tapping her foot all the while.
"Thank you, Edward." Mrs. Swan said. "I know Issy can be a handful. My brother-in-law says my niece was the same way."
"Oh?" Edward asked, his eyes interested. "Your niece that is approximately my age and a model?"
Mrs. Swan giggled. "She'll be over Christmas day if you want to see her. You'll still be around, right? For the annual Christmas block party?"
He nodded. "Yes, I'm here until after the New Year, then I head back to college."
"You'll leave?" Issy pouted, finally losing her patience.
"Yep, I have to go to school. Don't you have to go back to school, too?" He asked her sweetly.
Issy smiled. "Yeah! But that doesn't mean I can't see you after school," she reasoned.
"I live at my school," he explained. "And it's a long way from here."
"As far as your cousin lives," Mrs. Swan continued. "So, you know how hard it is for Edward to visit."
Issy remembered the long drive to Seattle to visit her princess beautiful cousin. It had felt like they would never arrive at their destination. She had made her father stop the car four times to go potty, just so she could escape from her mother's idea of entertainment: audio books.
"Darn," Issy complained. "But I want to marry you, Edward!"
The two adults towering over her chuckled. "Why not someone your own age?" her mother coaxed.
"Kindergarten boys can't give me piggy back rides," she whined, stomping her foot. "I want Edward!"
Seeing an incoming tantrum, Edward made a quick escape, making his excuses about meeting a friend.
He was careful on the ice as he finished the short walk down the block. His nearest neighbors were the Swans, but on the corner of their block was the McCarty house, where his best friend Emmett lived.
Content to leave the tantrum prone little girl behind, Edward couldn't have known what lengths little Issy Swan would go to in an attempt to snag her desired husband.
"Edward," Carlisle Cullen began that morning. "Why did Issy Swan ask for YOU for Christmas?"
Edward snorted into his Christmas Eve waffles, courtesy of his doting mother. "What? She did?"
"I just saw her father while I was getting the mail. He was sending out a very colorful envelope, for his daughter's sake. He said she had painstakingly written a letter to Santa asking if instead of a Hannah Montana guitar, she could get you." Carlisle let out a loud guffaw as he finished. "Why, might you tell me, did she set her sights on you?"
Edward groaned. "I saw her fall down on the ice and offered to give her a piggy back ride into her house." He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I should have left her there," he muttered.
Carlisle smacked the back of his son's head. "You be good, or I'm taking your presents back."
"That doesn't work on me anymore, dad," Edward griped, fixing his hair.
"It does when your mother made me buy you that new cell phone you wanted." Edward's eyes lit up with excitement. "And it's exactly that look," Carlisle threatened, "That will make you show up tomorrow morning at the Swan home and lend yourself to Issy while she opens her presents."
Edward's excitement morphed into horror. "WHAT?"
"Mr. Swan was not at all happy that not getting my son for Christmas might ruin his delicate daughter's belief in Santa Claus."
"What the – dad! They just need to tell her Santa doesn't give out people for Christmas!"
Carlisle was shaking his head, an unending smile on his face. "Too late. I already assured him you would be there at eight o'clock sharp."
"No way! I am not going to be a kindergartener's present!"
"I thought you would say that, which is why Mr. Swan thought it prudent to remind you that his niece will show up tomorrow. The model." Carlisle mussed his son's head. "I'm sure you'd want them to put in a good word for you…"
Edward growled. "That is…bribery!"
"Hmm…I think of it as bargaining."
Edward was in a pair of long, striped pajamas pants. He went shirtless, despite the cold, out of habit. He was going to bed early on Christmas Eve just to be awake early enough to be a present for young Issy Swan. Bitterly, he flung himself under his bed's blankets. It was frigid that night, and Edward wanted nothing better than to be under the covers with a girl…preferably Issy Swan's hot model cousin. He'd met her once, not long before she won the title of Miss Teen USA.
When she visited a few years before, he and Emmett had almost had a brawl over who got dibs on asking her out. They made amends when they discovered she was already dating some douchebag.
But she was single now, Edward thought, punching his pillow twice before laying his head down again. He fell asleep with a hopeful half smile. He certainly didn't dream of sugar plums, but they were definitely plump and he wanted to lick them like sugar…
His pleasant dreams were interrupted shortly after dawn by a ruckus at the foot of his bed. Edward rubbed his eyes frantically as a disturbing image stood before him. A man dressed as Santa was swinging a rope menacingly in one hand.
"I hear a little girl next door wants you for Christmas," the man said through his fake beard. "Ho, ho, ho, and I'm here to deliver - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers style."
The "Seven Brides" comment did it. His best friend had played one of the brothers in the school's rendition of that musical. "Emmett! No, no – Emmett! Stop!" Emmett pounced with all his football scholarship ability. "Crap – OW!" Edward snarled.
"Shh! Your parents are sleeping," Emmett chortled through his simple endeavor to tie up his scrawnier friend. He sunk his knee painfully into Edward's back, keeping Edward's face smashed into the carpet.
"You ass – mmph!" A slap of duct tape covered his mouth, followed by several more pieces. Edward's struggling was pitiful at best up against Emmett, who easily had his feet and legs tied together.
"All those summers spent with Grandpa McCarty on the pig farm finally paid off," Emmett said, admiring his handiwork. Edward fidgeted uncomfortably under the restraints. "Wait, wait – I forgot the finishing touch." A piece of sticky paper was put on Edward's forehead. "Gift wrapping complete!"
Edward gave his best attempt at flipping Emmett off.
"Oh, shut it. Your dad asked me to do this," Emmett told him, hoisting him up over his shoulder. "He said I could get you there any way I wanted as long as I didn't wake him up. You know what a practical joker your dad is. He thinks Mr. Swan is going to have a good laugh about this…"
Edward was going to list this as the worst Christmas morning he had had since he was eight, and that was the Christmas he'd broken his arm riding his new bike.
"Here, I found my hunting knife," Mr. Swan said, he was noticeably laughing as he watched Edward swallow nervously. He hoped the man knew how to use it – the knife looked razor sharp. He could do without losing any bits of his flesh.
"Take that duct tape off him, Issy," he instructed. The small girl went to work, picking at the many strips of duct tape on his face.
"Daddy, be careful!" Issy squealed. She was watching what was going on behind Edward's head.
"I'm being careful," her father said, sighing. "It would be easier if you didn't shout at me."
"Wait, wait, wait!" Mrs. Swan shouted, bounding down, still in her bathrobe. Mr. Swan actually dropped the knife, startled by his wife's entrance. "I found the camera! I knew I had it ready for this morning, but I forgot where I set it last night." She held up the shiny digital camera with joy. Edward raised an eyebrow. Was she serious?
"Get out of the picture, honey, just Issy," she ordered.
Issy stood beside Edward, proudly kneeling down to squeeze his head proudly. She turned to him abruptly. "Where's your shirt?"
And then Mrs. Swan's camera flashed, catching Edward's massive dark blush and Issy's utterly bewildered expression. They did a few more shots where Edward tried to look happy and Issy tried to suffocate him by covering his only breathing source: his nose.
After that, the whole family joined in on freeing him from his experience with what it might be like to dabble in BDSM. He was wholly against it, he was sure. No dabbling would be in his future. His ankles and wrists ached, and he had a bump on his head from where Emmett had misjudged the width of the Swan's front door. He thanked the family for finally releasing him.
On the sly, Mr. Swan filled his wife in on what he and Carlisle had planned, although he had been as surprised as the rest of his family when Edward had been delivered so…uniquely. Edward kindly stayed and assisted Issy in all her present opening. He even pretended to be enthusiastic about playing tea party with her.
Mrs. Swan took dozens of incriminating pictures that Edward worried would be shown at the block party later that night. Or worst case scenario: Mr. Swan's hot niece would see them.
Edward barely made it out of the Swan home alive. Issy had cried and cried when he informed her he had to go home for Christmas lunch. She had grabbed hold of his leg and nearly pulled his pajamas down. Mr. Swan physically held Issy away from him while Edward ran out the door. He was barefoot, shirtless, and in his pajamas, but he didn't care. He just wanted to get the hell out of there.
He jumped blindly off the icy porch, running smack into a petite brunette that was walking up to the Swan's house. The two of them narrowly caught themselves from falling by using each other for balance.
"Oh, sorry! I was – "
"What are you doing?" A voice roared at him. A man with a moustache had grabbed his arm, pulling him away from who Edward presumed was his daughter. He also presumed that the daughter was the Swans' niece. She was too pretty to be anybody else.
"Sorry," Edward repeated. The man flashed a shiny cop's badge. Edward's panic increased. "I just – I'm a neighbor. I was kidnapped and forced to open presents with the Swans. I'm not a psycho, I'm a neighbor," he said breathlessly, his face flushing down his neck.
"Charlie," his wife scolded beside him. "He's not one of Bella's fans. You met him the last time we were here. You're Esme's son, right?"
Edward nodded feverishly.
"Edward?" Bella asked, eyeing him closely. Edward twitched under her examination. She was too beautiful for words and there he was, standing outsides half naked like a fool. What a great impression, a babbling, lanky fool. Edward bemoaned his cruel fate.
Then he realized she'd remembered his name after three years. He hadn't even remembered hers.
"Yes, Edward Cullen," he said.
"Explain why you're not dressed," Charlie demanded.
"Uh, Issy told Santa she wanted me for Christmas," he admitted, bashfully.
The two women started giggling immediately. "Don't worry, I'll get after her," Bella said, patting his frozen shoulder. She gave him a gorgeous grin. Bella gracefully walked up the stairs to the front door, opened it, and yelled, "Mary ALICE Swan!" Edward blinked. Alice. Alice. Iss. Issy, he put together. Go figure how kids get their nicknames.
"Go on inside, dear," Bella's mother urged him. "You'll catch your death out here."
"But, I haven't finished questioning him," Charlie said.
"Yes, you have. You're off duty anyway."
"Police are never off duty," Charlie insisted.
She pushed her husband toward the door. "Goodbye, Edward. Say hello to your mother for me," she waved goodbye to him. Edward took his cue and scampered back to his house.
He barged in his front door, shivering noticeably. His mother peeked around the corner from where she was laboring in the kitchen. "Edward! Dear, what on earth happened? You're blue!"
Edward shrugged. "Dad and Emmett."
"Come here. I'll make you a hot drink." She took a step toward the living room. "Carlisle, you prankster! Get your frozen son a blanket!"
Weak protests came from where he was, before he appeared in the kitchen with a fleece blanket.
"Merry Christmas, Edward," Carlisle said. A smirk was on his face.
"Ho, ho, ho, no one's merry but little Issy next door," Edward complained.
"You'll be much merrier when you find out that that niece of the Swans' is going to your university next year. I saved that tidbit as your reward for going over there – aside from that cell phone you haven't unwrapped yet."
Edward did perk up. "Really? She's going to my school?"
"Yes, she is. That's why Robert didn't mind introducing you two. He thought it would be a good idea for his niece to know someone before she started classes."
"Fantastic!" Edward cheered, fist pumping his blue fingers into the air.
At the Christmas block party that evening, the eggnog was all over the place, the children of the neighborhood were running rampant with their new toys, and the college aged group was trying to sneak some drinks of the coveted spiked eggnog.
Emmett and Edward were two such individuals, sipping their spiked eggnog with glee. They were watching the general amusement of the party, hosted in the Cullens' large basement. Emmett had given his Santa outfit back to his dad, who was parading about with a slight tilt. He had had too much of the spiked eggnog. The mistletoe was being hogged by two high school students, Jessica and Mike, who were about to get busted by Mr. Stanley, Jessica's father.
Edward also had to keep fending off the well meaning neighbors who wanted to tease him about the pictures the Swans were showing everyone. They were of him tied up under their tree beside precocious Issy Swan. Their favorite was the one where he was blushing the color of a Red Delicious apple.
All the while, Edward was working up the nerve to talk to Bella Swan, who was entertaining her young cousin by playing Shoots and Ladders with her. Edward was waiting for Issy's absence before he made his move. So far, Issy hadn't left Bella alone once.
He didn't even have any competition to worry about. Emmett had agreed to let Edward have his chance (and not hit on Bella himself), as an apology for knocking Edward's head on the side of the doorway that morning. "But only if you promise to get her to introduce me to Rosalie Hale. I saw they were friends on Facebook, and I have to meet her. She is all the things I want in my future wife." Rosalie was a model, the blonde version of Bella. Edward preferred brunettes, so he had agreed readily.
Now, if he could just pluck up the balls to talk to her.
Maybe he should write a letter to Santa. "Dear Santa, please bring me Bella Swan sans annoying little cousin. Sincerely, (Desperate) Edward Cullen."
He was still working on his liquid courage when the beautiful model presented herself. Edward gave a silent thanks to the big man up north.
"Hi, Edward," she said warmly. "It's good to see you found some clothes."
"Uh, yeah," he said stupidly. Beside him, Emmett snorted.
Bella was not deterred, or else she was just used to boys losing their cool around her startling beauty.
"I thought it was really sweet what you did for Issy. Your dad told me you were going to go over, even if your friend hadn't kidnapped you," she giggled, clearly thinking of their meeting that morning. She turned to Emmett. "And I forgot your name, what was it again?"
"Emmett McCarty," he said, shaking her hand. Inside, Edward was doing another fist pump. She had remembered his name, but not Emmett's!
"Nice to meet you," she said.
"Nice to meet you," he agreed. "But I need to see to a Santa who is drinking too much eggnog; also known as my dad." And Emmett gave Edward his window to be alone with Bella. At last.
Bella smiled. "I can't believe you played tea party with Alice," she giggled again. It was the best sound Edward had ever heard. He didn't care that it was at his expense.
"She's just a kid who believes in Santa."
"She's also spoiled out of her mind," Bella told him. "Aunt Joy and Uncle Robert cannot stop from giving her everything she wants. She's like a little me, so I know she's spoiled."
Edward wrinkled his brow. "I just can't imagine you being as demanding as Issy."
"Oh, I was," she said. "Which is how I knew the way to escape her grasp to come talk to you."
"What?" Edward asked, suddenly recalling that Bella had been with Issy all night. His eyes flitted around the room, wondering where she went. He found her torturing Jasper Whitlock, second grader. She was putting dramatic eye shadow on his resistant face. She was sitting on him to prevent his running away.
"Poor Jasper!" Edward laughed, not pitying the boy in the least. It could have been him instead. Terrifying.
"Yes, I thought he was just Alice's type. She loves any boy I think is cute, so I told her how handsome I thought Jasper was over our game of Shoots and Ladders, and a minute later she's prowling after him. I acted the same way with my friend Rosalie. Any boy she thought was cute, I had to have. That went on until we were 10."
"What do you mean any boy you think is cute?" Edward inquired, his heart quickening with hope.
Bella blushed. "Well, for example, when I was talking to Alice on the phone before I visited, I asked her if her cute neighbor, Edward, still lived next door."
Edward's resulting expression nearly cracked his lips. "You think I'm cute?"
"Didn't I just say that?" she asked, boldly.
Edward grabbed her hand, leading her stealthily toward the mistletoe. They were almost directly beneath it when he asked, "Can I kiss you?"
"Yes," she whispered, her cheeks tinged with anticipation.
"Fantastic," he grinned. He maneuvered her under the mistletoe and gestured to it. Bella glanced up, and then enthusiastically leaned forward to plant one on him. They each tasted like sweet eggnog, although Edward's had some extra spice to it. It was a brief, yet passionate kiss. They didn't want to put on a show like the last couple underneath the mistletoe had.
"Hey, Bella?" Edward began, his forehead resting against hers.
"Hmm?" She asked. She looked dazed, as if intoxicated from the mere taste of the rum on his breath.
"Don't be worried if, next year, a fat man in a red suit kidnaps you."
"Why would he - ?"
"Because I'm going to tell Santa all I want for Christmas is you. If it worked for a kindergartener, it can work for me."
End Note: My first Christmas with my now fiancé, I gave him a photo shopped card that had a picture of him in Santa's toy bag. The card said, "Don't be worried if a fat man dressed in red kidnaps you. I told Santa all I wanted for Christmas was you." I'm a true romantic, yes? But honestly, lots of people use that line. I just have a special attachment to it. Don't think I'm that much of a genius. I didn't come up with it myself!
Please review and tell me what you think!