S. Meyer owns all the original characterizations and plot lines.
Edward knew he was being irrational but he couldn't help but throw his father dirty looks. Fucking Carlisle, your old ass needs to quit with the panty dropper bullshit. It didn't escape his notice the amused glances his dad was shooting him in answer.
When he heard Bella laugh at yet another one of his father anecdotes from the hospital he scoffed. She turned her huge doe eyes on him with a look of confusion and he just gave her a tight smile and a shake of his head. And his fucking mother was eating this shit up. He almost rethought his sobriety by grabbing a glass of scotch.
Jasper caught his eye and gave him a curious glance. Edward heaved a sigh and excused himself and Bella from his parents and led them over to Alice and Jazz.
"You okay man?" Jasper questioned with a clap to his shoulder.
Edward's eyes darted to Bella but she wasn't paying attention, instead talking to Alice about shoes or some other ridiculous girl thing. Edward smirked in her direction and then nodded at Jazz. He was about to reply when Emmett's booming voice halted all thoughts of conversation.
"How are my two favorite baby snatchers?" Emmett practically yelled, draping his huge arms around Jasper and Edward and leaning drunkenly.
Jasper and Edward both turned to glare at him and toss his arms off. Emmett just looked at them like, what?
Edward's eyes darted to Bella to see her jaw hanging open and Alice squinting at Emmett. His attention was then drawn to his parent's who were standing with Alice and Bella now, clearly having just struck up a conversation with the girls. It was silent. Dead fucking silent.
Fuck. My. Life. Edward just stared at his parents, not really knowing what to say.
Finally after a moment of uncomfortable silence, Carlisle interjected, "Never fear Eddie, your mother robbed my cradle as well," he declared with a dramatic wink.
He gagged at his parents when he mother drawled an Ohh Carlisle and slapped at his chest. This was his nightmare. Not to mention, Bella fucking giggled at him yet again.
Alice had maneuvered her way next to Emmett and was sticking her finger into his chest and giving him a piece of her mind. It was quite comical as Emmett was easily three times her size. She was making threats about convincing Rosalie to deny access to her 'naughty no-no zone.'
Edward squeezed his eyes shut tightly for a moment before manning up and heading over to Bella's side. He placed his arm around her waist and pulled her into his side, while sending a sneer at his father. Ya, he was being ridiculous, so the fuck what.
His dad snorted outright at his behavior and his mother sent him a stunning grin. Those little shits planned this.
"So Bella, since my son is apparently robbing nurseries these days, I find it prudent to inquire your age." Carlisle drawled, his voice taking on some of the English accent of his youth.
Bella blushed, "Oh uh, I'm nineteen. I'm a freshman at the University."
Carlisle simply inclined his head to her. Esme launched into tales of her time at University with her arm resting on Bella's forearm. She was gushing about how she should rush the sorority that she was an alumni of and how she would gladly sponsor her.
Edward felt her stiffen in his grasp, and though they had never talked of it, he instinctually knew that his Bella wasn't a 'joiner'. He listened as she politely tried to deflect the offer. Stating that she would be taking a six class course load next semester. Edward looked down at her in surprise, he hadn't known that, and though he hadn't been to school, he knew that was insane.
"My dear, that's quite a lot! I can't imagine. Of course, I was married in college, so it was difficult to go full time, but it was still the best time of my life."
"Well, I'm trying to play catch up. I deferred my first semester, and my original scholarship was for four years only." Bella said with a slight blush. It was obvious she was uncomfortable with the attention.
Esme's eyes darted to her son, and she took in the slight frown marring his features. When he caught her staring he fixed his face into his normal crooked grin before Bella could turn and catch the frown as well.
He couldn't help but feel guilty about her words. She was going to be killing herself next semester because he had been a selfish prick. If it wasn't for him she would have been in school like she planned. She would've had the life that a normal eighteen year old should've had.
He recognized his thoughts going to dark places and felt the slight tremor in his hands that indicated a craving. He took a deep breath and ran through the deflection techniques that Carlisle had taught him during his last session.
A moment later he looked up and his gaze met his father's. Carlisle lifted an eyebrow as if to inquire if he was alright. Edward just nodded slightly and turned his attention back to the women in his life. Their conversation had turned to a lunch date that Esme wanted to set up with her in the near future.
Edward had conflicting emotions about this new friendship between his mother and his…Bella. He didn't want Esme pushing Bella toward him; she had made it abundantly clear that she was working her way back to him…slowly. Like snail slowly. He also had lingering anxiety from his past that had kept her separated from his family in the first place. He had irrational fears of his parents warning Bella off of him.
He acknowledged that they were in fact irrational, but that didn't stop the anxiety yet. He was working on it. He knew how hurt his parents had been about the baby and then subsequently his severing ties with Kate. He didn't want them to tell Bella all of his secrets.
He tried to shake it off and offer a smile. He gave Bella a squeeze and leaned down to ask her if she wanted to take a walk with him. She turned and looked up at him and his heart stuttered, she really was staggering beautiful. It was her trust in him; even after all he had put her through that floored him. At times he had to stop and catch his breath; the weight of her trust could be overwhelming.
Carlisle had warned him in a previous meeting that the pressure could be harmful to his progress and could ignite set backs, but Edward had vehemently assured him that Bella was worth it. She was the only good, light thing in his life for the past however many years. He was stupid enough to push her away once; he wasn't going to do it again.
It was that conversation that Edward assumed, had prompted his mother and father's tag-team against him and Bella. They were feeling him out. Apparently, they approved of Bella whole heartedly, which was comforting, but overwhelming as well.
He tried to swerve his overactive mind from his crazy thoughts and excused himself and Bella. He led her by the small of her back out into the late spring night.
He pulled her deeply into his side and ran his hand up and down her bare arm to stave off the slight chill. He led her past the outdoor smoking section until they were strolling the lit up downtown area.
"Thanks for coming with me Bella. I'm sorry if my parent's are too much…" he trailed off and looked at the cracked sidewalk.
Bella turned her body into his and kept walking, "They're wonderful Edward, and they love you so much. I'm really really glad you asked me to come," she finished with a slight blush tinting her cheeks as she stared up at him.
He gave her an extra squeeze and smiled down at her before pulling her along with him.
When they reached the water fountain he pulled her to a stop. They stared at the lights glinting off the water silently for a few moments before Edward handed her a penny and told her to make a wish.
Bella giggled and dramatically clutched the penny to her chest and squeezed her eyes shut before delicately tossing it in the fountain.
Edward stared down at her enthralled at the lights playing off her cheeks. She opened her eyes slowly and looked up at him. The smile on her face stole his breath yet again, she looked so happy.
"I really want to kiss you right now," Edward whispered in a gritty voice. When he saw Bella's eyes go wide he clenched his shut and dropped his chin to his chest and took a deep breath, preparing to step away.
He felt her tiny hand on his chest and his eyes shot to hers. She had her bottom lip stuck between her teeth yet again and it was like a lightning bolt to his dick, which he was currently giving a stern talking to in his head about how to behave in the presence of a lady.
He was floored yet again when she rose on her toes, bringing her even closer to him than her ridiculous shoes already did. She wobbled slightly and he prayed it was the shoes and not the champagne. He put his hand on her lower back to steady her and waited, he wasn't moving in or back, this was all on her.
Her beautiful brown eyes were staring into his, seemingly looking for something. She must have gotten her answer because before he could wet his lips she was practically climbing up his chest to close the last inches between them.
The kiss only lasted a moment and it was sweet, no tongue, no biting, and the way they used to kiss, but it was the best he'd ever had. When she pulled away, both had their eyes shut tight, knowing when they opened them everything would have changed.
When Edward opened his eyes he saw that she had started to panic, and his stomach dropped. She had her thumb nail between her teeth and had turned slightly away from him to gaze at the fountain.
"Don't. Just don't Bella. Be mad at me or whatever, but don't regret it," Edward pleaded in a voice tinged with anger.
"I don't it's just…" Bella trailed off and stared at the water once again.
"Is it him? Cuz I gotta tell you B, I'm really fucking sick of this kid interrupting us. He isn't even fucking here right now."
Bella looked at him with glassy eyes, "It isn't Embry…I uh ended things with him."
Edward frowned for a moment, "I didn't get the impression there was much to end…I thought you said he wasn't your boyfriend."
"He wasn't, but he didn't deserve me sneaking around either. He could've loved me Edward, if I had let him."
Edward growled in his chest, "I do love you Bella, and this back and forth is really fucking with my head. But let's be real fucking honest here, I'm gonna let you keep on doing it because you fucking own me."
Bella turned to him fully with her jaw dropped open, "I get that I'm jerking you around Edward, I don't want to, trust me. But every time I think I can move on from what happened, I flash back to you and the other girls, or the coke, or the yelling, and I just can't do it."
Edward clutched at his hair with hands, "I fucked up, I get that Bella. I fucking hate myself for what I put you through. But I can't change it, I can't. I'm trying so fucking hard to show that that's not who I want to be anymore. But I don't know if it'll ever be enough. Will there always be these little college boys waiting in the wings to come sweep you up whenever I fuck up?"
Bella had tears streaming down her face, "I ended it with him because he wasn't you. He was nice to me, protective, respectful, but that was it. I'm so fucked up in the head over you that I missed the fighting, I missed the crying. I missed seeing your fingerprints on my body because it was not yours, not because you hurt me. You held me so tightly as if I was always one step from leaving," her voice trailed off brokenly at the end.
Edward was floored. He hated hearing about some other guy, but hearing how she craved him set of a primal feeling inside of him. He reached his hand into the hair at the nape of her neck and pulled her face to his.
He kissed her with all the love and frustration that had been building in him for months. Their teeth clashed together and their tongues danced the timeless dance that they both remembered so well from their previous love. He tried to slow the pace of the kiss, not wanting to frighten her off now that she was finally in his arms again.
He had both hands cupping her face, softly stroking the apples of her cheeks with his thumbs. He began to pull away but at the last second took her full bottom lip between his teeth and bit gently before soothing it with his tongue.
When he pulled away his hands stayed on her face and he stared down at her closed lids. Her cheeks felt warm under his thumbs and he grinned at the blush covering her face and chest. He still had it.
She didn't shake his grasp off but her face tilted down to stare at the ground, "I thought after everything that happened, I didn't want to feel anything. I never wanted to love someone that much again, I didn't think I could. But I do still love you Edward. It's just different now, you're different. It's like falling in love all over again but with a new man…but it doesn't change the past. I want to just forget it, I do, but I can't."
"What are you saying Bella," Edward questioned in a pained voice.
"I'm not saying anything yet Edward. You say you love me, and I still love you, but I'm not ready to be together again. I'm sorry. I can't ask you to wait for me, that isn't fair to you. But I have to try and move past the old stuff before we can try this new stuff out."
Edward heaved a sigh of relief and kissed her forehead, "You love me. That's enough. I promise it's enough. I'm gonna be so much better, I promise, you'll see."
Bella nodded and looked up through her lashes, he watched in confusion as a tear slipped down her cheek.
"Uhm I was trying to tell you earlier, and now is really shitty timing, but I have to tell you something."
Edward's hands gripped minutely tighter on her cheeks, "What is it?"
"I'm going back to Forks. I'm leaving after finals."
Edward dropped his hands to his sides, "But you're coming back right?"
Bella nodded, "Yeah, it's just for the summer. I have to be out of the dorms and things are better with Charlie."
Edward breathed with relief yet again before it settled in that he would go months without seeing her again.
"You can stay here B. You don't have to go back to Forks."
"I can't impose on Alice and Jazz again and I definitely can't move back into a one bedroom apartment with you." She said in a joking manner.
"I can get a different apartment, a bigger one."
Bella snorted, "Don't be silly Edward; I'm going back to Forks. We both have shit to work out, clearly. Maybe in the fall things will be clearer and all these feelings won't be so extreme."
Bella heaved a sigh but smiled at him softly, "You can't ask me not to go Edward. You know I have to. This will be good for me, for us. I really believe that. I need to be alone for awhile without any distractions."
"I feel like I'm losing you again."
Bella laughed softly, "I want to say something all tough about me not being yours to lose, but I'm done fucking around. You're not losing me. I just need to do my own thing for a bit."
Edward grinned at her, "So are you saying your mine?"
Bella slapped his chest, "You're such an asshole. No I'm not yours, I'm myself, but I think you're mine. You're throwing yourself at me pretty hard Cullen," Bella said with a smile in her voice.
AN: Sorry for the delay again lovelies. Hope you liked it! Let me know what you think!