Collaboration with jarkin33 for the A Christmas to Remember Anonymous o/s Contest. Hope you got a chance to vote!

Thanks to Erin for helping us get this just right!

Title: Willow
Rating: M
Summary: A quaint small town. A horse named Willow. Two lonely lovers. These are the ingredients of a DIVINE holiday romance.
Pairing: Edward/Bella

Willow

"In the meadow we can build a snowman… and pretend that he is…Dr. Cullen… what are you doing?" Sue asked entering the treatment area.

She was barely audible over the vibrating shears. Using my left hand to hold down the small poodle, while I worked his black, curly fur with the other I explained, "I just thought I'd give Jake here, an extra special trim."

"Okay, but Dr. Cullen you know we have a groomer on staff for that and actually, it's the practice's policy to ask the owner if they prefer their dog groomed before surgery."

"Oh, well now he has the dignity of looking sharp for his life altering snip. And honestly Sue, I'm bored."

"You're in luck then, we just got our first after hours holiday call. There's a problem with the foal out at the Swan ranch," she explained handing me a thick manila chart.

"Bella Swan?"

"Uhm… yes, that's Charlie's daughter," Sue settled back against an exam counter preparing herself for the arduous task of dealing small town gossip. She continued, "Pretty little thing, sweet too. Just moved back into town a few months ago; lonely enough to live with her folks again. Cute, young woman like that should be off married and making babies. Rumor has it some big city boy broke her heart right after college." She leaned in, whispering, "You know, old Mrs. Varner at the church said she heard he was a real cosmopolitan type. I betcha he was one of those metrosexuals." She gestured quotations with her holiday manicured nails. "Anyway… lovely family. And that Charlie Swan, oh my, is he ever a tall, handsome drink of water…"

"So what's wrong with the foal?" I knew, despite the ex cosmo boyfriend, there was nothing wrong with Bella Swan.

"It was actually Bella that called. She's out there alone for the holidays; her folks left for the Florida Keys, a second honeymoon, I hear. Anyway, the foal won't eat. The mare's trying to wean, but the baby won't do solids and it's been a few days. Bella's been trying a bottle, a syringe, the whole kit and caboodle, poor thing. Now it's probably got nipple confusion. She sounded real worried."

Nipple confusion and Bella Swan…

"Alright, I'll call her back. Thanks. You should take off and enjoy your vacation. I'm sure your kids are waiting for you."

She smiled through her red lipstick and approached me for a friendly hug.

"Oh, I just hate it that you're on call during Christmas. It stinks being the new vet in the office. Listen, you're welcome to join us on Saturday. I'll be serving Christmas dinner at noon and I know Quil would be all sorts of excited to have you at the house. He really looks up to you, you know," she said patting my face with her palm.

"He's a good kid and thanks for the invite. Oh, that reminds me. I made you these wreath cookies." I walked around the corner to the break room, carrying Jake the poodle, and grabbed the paper plate.

"Dr. Cullen, be still my heart. You're going to make me cry. The men in my house don't even know where the kitchen is."

"Don't get too excited, they're just marshmallows and cornflakes. The oven back in the garage apartment doesn't work so I made these on the stovetop."

"They're just perfect. And I'll get onto Dr. Clearwater about getting you a new stove," she squealed squeezing my cheeks. "My god you're adorable. If I was 20 years younger…." With that she headed out the door. "He'll say are you married, we'll say no man… but you can do the job when you're in town…." she sang.

"Alright Jake, you're looking good enough. I shall castrate you on Monday… but right now… I'm going to call the beautiful, and apparently single, Bella Swan…" Jake suddenly lodged his teeth deep into my left hand. "Ow! Motherfucker!" I laughed in the pups sniveling snout through my bleeding pain.

I grabbed my black backpack and headed out to the old blue Chevy, noticing some jolly soul had hung a red ribboned wreath on the front grill.

"Hello," Bella answered, her voice small and sweet.

"Hi, this is Edward with Forks Farm and Fur…" My inner ego cringed with every mention. "I'm the vet on call this weekend and was told you have a foal that's not eating well.

"Yes, thanks so much for calling back. She's very lethargic and I'm… scared." Oh baby, I'm on my way.

"I'd have to see her of course, before I can diagnose the issue but I'm sure it's nothing too serious. I can head out there now if you want."

"That would be wonderful. Thank you. Do you need the address?"

"No, it's in the chart. I'll see you in about twenty minutes." Or ten, considering I'm already half way there.

~*~Willow~*~

"Shit!" About a quarter mile south of the Swan ranch, the truck hit a small patch of ice. I pulled the steering wheel in the opposite direction trying to avoid the large bank of snow that the plows had deposited on the rural road, but I wasn't fast enough. The wheels of the truck were stuck and putting it in reverse only exasperated the situation. "Goddammit." My wheels were spinning and Bella Swan was waiting.

With khaki cargo pants soaked to the knees and boots frozen stiff, I finally made it to her driveway with holiday décor mercifully lighting my way. Multicolored lights framed the large rustic barn on the right side of the property, while the large prairie style home was lined with white strands. I made out a beautiful blur wrapped in puffy down and Gore-tex near the end of my path.

Suddenly blinded by a menacing orange beam, I continued moving forward shielding my eyes with the back of my poodle ravaged hand.

"Edward? Is that you?" She asked as I approached.

"Yeah, sorry. My truck got stuck a ways back."

She turned off the spotlight when I reached her. Although I didn't think it was possible; she was more naturally stunning than she was ten years ago.

"Wait, Edward… Edward Cullen, from Mr. Varner's biology class? Oh my god, how are you?"

"Good," I replied stifling my euphoria. She remembered.

"So, it's Dr. Edward Cullen? Wow, that's really great." Her smile was weakening my stance. "Didn't you move away senior year?"

"Yes, to Denver. My mom wasn't well and her family lived there. I've pretty much been in Colorado ever since."

"How did you end up back in Forks at Farm and Fur?"

"Well, after I graduated, Dr. Clearwater, an old friend of my dad's, offered me the job. Now here I am working for Farm and Fur… taking care of animals… in the snow… in the dark…"

She stared at my face with an intensity I greedily welcomed. Then an icy breeze blew through her dark, silky hair breaking her reverie and spreading her honeyed scent.

"Oh god… you must be freezing; how far did you walk?"

"About a quarter mile."

She reached out, gently touching my face. Her hand, covered in black knit fingerless gloves, ran over my wind chafed cheek. I reveled in the unbelievable moment of finally feeling Bella Swan's fingertips on my skin.

After an offer to loan me Charlie's dry boots, we made our way to the heated barn through the fresh snowdrifts. Bella led me around to the stall where the foal laid.

"This is Willow."

I moved closer to the majestic babe. "Hey, gorgeous girl… what's wrong, hmmm? You're beautiful, aren't you?" I whispered, allowing her to acclimate.

"I've tried everything. This morning, I even watered down some grain in a syringe and she still wouldn't feed."

Bella motioned to the mare, "She's ready to complete natural weaning, but Willow obviously isn't."

"You definitely did the right thing. She's old enough to begin solid food, for sure. This happens, it'll be okay. Sometimes it's hard to break from the unique warmth and security of a mother," I lamented as I began to slowly stroke the foal.

Bella knelt down nearby, studying my process while I completed a general equine exam. I silently thanked the college advising gods for encouraging my gift in large animal science. "Bella, do you have molasses in the house, by any chance? I'd like to try something."

"I can go check. I'll be right back, don't go anywhere." I was almost certain she didn't realize what she'd said and I was absolutely certain I wasn't going anywhere.

Thankfully when Bella returned she had a jar of molasses in her hand. I poured some over a few scoops of grain in a low metal container and Willow's interest was piqued just enough to run her tongue over the mixture.

"There you go, sweet girl," I encouraged the famished horse while she tasted the nourishing goodness.

Bella sat gazing between me and the young horse in wonder and relief. Her face bright just as it was when she recognized me.

Peaceful moments morphed into many while we watched the foal graze lazily.

"Edward, did you wonder why we all sat behind you on exam day?"

"No, when chairs and bodies went flying near my lab table on dissection day, I pretty much figured it out." We shared a knowing, nostalgic laugh; then she stilled, looking quite thoughtful.

"But you chose me," she whispered lost in the memory.

"I chose you," I confirmed.

We slipped into a weighted stare.

"You know that was the highest science grade I ever made."

"Oh yeah? Well then I take it you're not a doctor or…"

"No, no I'm not," she interrupted.

"So what did become of Bella Swan?" I asked settling back against the wood paneling.

"Whew… what has become of me? Well, I went to Columbia University."

"In New York? That's brave and terrific." I smiled and her shoulders squared.

"And I graduated with a Masters degree in journalism and here I am… living with my parents… writing for the Forks Frontier."

"The Forks Frontier is a fine publication from what I hear," I teased, matching her sarcasm.

"I'll have you know, I'm the chief features editor," she said with mocked pride.

"What are you featuring these days?"

"I'm doing a double page expose on the Forks Festival Christmas Eve tree lighting tomorrow. So there's that…" She offered with a raised eyebrow.

"What a coincidence. I'm actually working there."

"Working? Checking the pulse of Santa's reindeer? Or…" She pushed on my upper arm in jest, but I felt the electricity though layers to my core.

"Very funny. I'm the sponsor for the Future Farmers of America at the high school. They're in charge of the eggnog and cookie booth."

"How'd you get that gig?"

"Sue, our receptionist, asked me to do it. Her son, Quil, is the student president and it's not too bad. I'm trying to get them involved in a few local service projects. You know… keeping the youth off the streets of Forks through bovine appreciation."

Her laughter was the music my life was missing.

Willow made a sudden movement and we both slid quickly back to the purpose of my presence. "Bella, you know I don't mind staying with her if you want to head inside for the night."

"You mean watch her overnight?" She asked surprised.

"Sure. I know you're worried and it's on the house." I winked like an arrogant son of a bitch. I reactively ran a shaking hand through my hair while she looked at me, her mouth gaping slightly.

"Okay, sure. Thank you. I'll just grab a sleeping bag and some…" She walked out of the barn mumbling to herself. I assumed this was a good sign, Bella was flustered.

She returned with enough paraphernalia to host a Boy Scout troop. She suggested we move to the clean, comfortable loft area. I happily followed her up the ladder while taking in her incredible ass that had only been enhanced since the last time I'd admired it during eleventh grade homeroom.

We enjoyed a thermos of delicious homemade chili and another of hot apple cider. She glowed in the lantern light as she sat across from me, long lean legs tucked under her. I noticed her eyeing my left hand, hoping the search was for a band and not the gouge from Jake the wonder dog.

"So, married, kids…" Curiosity equates wishing.

"Nope, neither. Vet school was very time consuming and honestly not many collegiate age women are turned on by the smell of…"

"Got it." She wrinkled her nose and we smiled.

"Tell me; besides editing the fine features of Forks what else have you been up to."

She shrugged, "I've been pretty busy traveling to interviews."

"Interviews? Travel?" Hope fell parallel to my heart.

"Yeah, I've had two interviews for a publicity assistant position with Heidi Hale in the past month. It's looking good."

"I'd say so, if you were asked back a second time," I forced. "Heidi Hale, as in lamp shades and lamb chops?"

"Yes, The Heidi Hale Show. She's lifestyle royalty, you know. Anyway, I'm expecting a call any time now."

"Very cool, but I bet she can't make cookies out of cornflakes," I quipped, amusing only myself.

"What?" She asked, yawning.

"Nothing… So you really want to go back to New York and go primetime?"

"I think so. I can't take photographs of the senior prom or the women at the church social for the rest of my life," she lamented quietly.

"Oh, I don't know, those women have a lot of good tales to tell. You could learn a lot about the ways of the world from that group. They're quite observant."

The night wore on in bittersweet reunion. I listened to Bella speak of moving so far away, when I'd only just begun the rediscovery.

We leaned back into the blankets in unison while gazing out the tiny window in the barn loft. The lights illuminating the snow in the darkness were exceptional, and my company was breathtaking. Her eyes barely closed as she sighed into the plaid wool expanse beneath her. I couldn't resist reaching forward and running an inch of dark silk between my fingers, as I dreamed.

Just before dawn I heard a slight rustling on the main level of the barn. As my eyes adjusted to waking, they were greeted with my ideal vision. I reveled in the moment, tracing her eyebrows, her cheekbones, and her jaw by sight.

After I connected the foal and mare for an early morning nursing, Bella made her way down the loft ladder. She pulled her hair into a loose ponytail and smiled her morning greeting, setting my world in motion once again.

"Thank you for staying with her," she said quietly.

"No problem. She's going to be fine. She nursed well this morning and you can try the same mixture again later. She'll be eating only solids soon and loving her new independence."

Together we soothed Willow, running our hands over and through her mane. Bella bit her lip and searched my face thoughtfully. "Edward, is your mom okay?"

The question blind-sided me. I sighed deeply and cleared my throat. "We actually lost her last spring," I whispered.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't realize…" Her eyes glistened.

"She's at peace now, she was so weary."

Bella breached the space between us. I felt her fingers graze then lace into mine within the horse's mane. I squeezed lightly and brought both of our hands up to her cheek.

"You're blushing, it's beautiful," I smiled.

"My cheeks turn red when it's cold."

"Oh, is that right? Hmmm, what's that condition called?" I teased as we moved closer surrendering to the undeniable pull.

Our mouths touched tentatively and we smiled against each other's chilled lips. "Can I kiss you, Bella?"

She nodded slightly, embracing me while I my hands found the nape of her neck. I offered a soft, tender kiss, then she reciprocated and my head dizzied. I worked a hand into her ponytail freeing the mahogany strands to tumble down her back. Gently, I sucked her plump lower lip between my teeth, nipping it lightly, eliciting a sensual moan. Our mouths became desperate, tongues tangled, and bodies pressed. It was fucking bliss.

After moving her backwards against the planked wall, I grasped her denim thigh and pulled her against my hardness. My hips thrust into her reactively as I responded to the friction of her soft warmth. We gasped together, our breathing accelerated and hearts racing.

Pulling back from her exquisite kiss, I took her presence in; wavy mussed hair, flushed flesh, and wanting lips. I dusted her forehead with breathy kisses and retreated. "I should go." After all, she was leaving soon too.

"Okay… I'm …" She was dazed.

Suddenly speechless, I needed the frigid, morning air. I reached down to pick up my backpack and discreetly adjusted my swollen cock.

I sought a grateful nuzzle from Willow and backed out of the stall area. Bella stood motionless obviously still processing our passionate moments.

Hoping the morning sun had melted the snow imprisoning my tires, I forged on, getting further away from the Swan ranch. I took with me a dream realized. I kissed Bella Swan… in a barn.

~*~Willow~*~

"Dr. Ed! What's up?" Quil and his bevy of junior farmers attacked me with greetings. The festival was in full swing when I arrived. For a quaint, conservative town the atmosphere was surprisingly electric. The periphery of the town center was lined with bare branched trees dressed in white lights from trunk to limb. Booths selling wares from local artisans crowded the square area. The FFA eggnog booth took residence near the spinner of carols, an elderly man dressed inappropriately as an elf. The main attraction, the tree, stood tall in the center surrounded by a small gathering space.

Laughter traveled across the vintage bricked square. It was her. Bella looked incredible in a winter white wool pea coat and red knit hat. Her slender legs in faded jeans and tucked into tall leather boots, distracted my pouring. I watched her from afar conversing with all ages and sizes, her smile sweet and mood warm. She pulled an impressive camera from the black satchel hanging across her tiny body. Giggling and singing with a bright eyed little girl, Bella stole a few images of pure joy. She worked the crowd like a professional; secretly obtaining information for her big expose. The carols started really pumping and the crowd anticipated the lighting countdown. Families drifted into position, gazing at the height of the tree. I sauntered towards her attempting smooth and cool. "Dr. Cullen… Dr. Cullen, over here," Sue shouted waving through the sea of wool caps. I stretched my arm high and waved in return. "The cornflake cookies were delicious, honey," she announced to the population of Forks and Bella.

I glided in next to her while she snickered and watched from the corners of her luscious chocolate eyes. "Cornflakes? Can I take that recipe with me to share with Heidi Hale." No, don't… go. I smirked to mask my worry, just as the countdown began. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1

And there was light… Have Yourself a Merry Llittle Christmas spilled out of the speakers. I swiftly grabbed her bag from her hands and set it at our snow boots. Holding her close, I tucked her gloved hand between our bodies and began to move. The surprise romantic assault left her breathless. We didn't speak, we only swayed and stared. Our connection was intensifying and I leaned in and ran my nose softly against hers as we breathed each other in.

"Aw, look it's a Christmas miracle, Dr. Ed is dancing with a woman," shouted Quil. Bella and I broke free from each other just as the snowballs flew.

"Who's supervising those punks?" Bella joked with a raised brow.

We made our way back to the booth. "Alright boys, you owe me a cup of your brew," she teased.

"Oh, we've got an extra special batch of nog just for Dr. Ed's lady friend."

~*~Willow~*~

"Fuck… that was so fun. Wasn't that fun? That was fun. And you left me all turned on and hot this morning. Did you know I was horny? I was and hot and oh, did you get my bag? My camera… that camera was a present… not for Christmas but my birthday. Yep… a birthday present from my ex. He's my ex. And he likes to shop. So he bought me that camera… on my birthday. Asshole. You know why he's an asshole, Edward? I'll tell you. Because he bought Tanya one too, bitch," Bella slurred.

Those boys and their special batch of nog will totally be seeing the inside of the horseshit compost this week.

"But you're not an asshole, Edward. You're wonderful. Like really, really wonderful. You're sweet, smart, and hot… like hot, hot. You're like husband material, yep… you are."

Okay, maybe horseshit is too extreme, I'll settle for chicken shit. God, is this really happening…

The drive back to the Swan ranch was full of interesting diatribes by the sexiest drunk I'd ever had the pleasure of caring for. Her delicate hand massaged and caressed my thigh for the first ten miles, and teased the bulge of my dick for the last ten. I pulled her from my truck and lifted her over my shoulder. Her ass made fine company on the side of my face for our snowy walk to the front door. I tried a few different keys before finding the right fit. Once inside, I put Bella carefully on her feet. She immediately bit her lip and grabbed my hands. She teased me through her lashes as she pulled me deeper into the house. She led me upstairs, missing a few on her way. We headed right at the landing and into a moss green painted bedroom with a cozy queen size four poster bed. She stood uninhibited in the middle of her bedroom and stripped slowly down to her ice blue lace panties and white winter silk undershirt. Her enticingly hard nipples taunted me beneath the transparent material.

When she leaned over the bed to pull back the down duvet, her ass quickly communicated my rights to me. I took a step back to regain my composure. She climbed inside the cozy cocoon of delight and stared anxiously at me through seductive, drooping eyes. "Are you sleeping in the barn or in my arms Edward?" Then she giggled… uncontrollably. I was already past go in the scenario so I worked myself down to my boxers and crawled in next to her. She curled into my side, laying her head on my naked chest. "You're warm. I like apple pie when it's warm. Do you like pie?"

"Bella, shhh." I kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back gently coaxing her to sleep. She looked up at me with a lazy grin.

"Are you tired? I'm not tired. I should be tired. Maybe I'm tired." I trapped her chin between my fingers and kissed her. She quieted and laid her head back down on my chest. Her breathing slowed as she left to dream. I set the alarm on my watch for the dawn horse feeding, hoping I could sneak out without waking Bella. Lying contented in a warm bed with the ultimate woman, albeit drunk, truly was a Christmas miracle. I laughed quietly to myself.

"Merry Christmas, Bella," I whispered in her ear, kissing her temple before drifting.

~*~Willow~*~

After sleeping soundly wrapped around Bella's slight curves, I made my way to the barn to monitor the nursing foal before the sun rose. I was very pleased with the progress Willow made in twenty four hours and almost regretted the thought that my services wouldn't be needed at the Swan ranch anytime soon. When I stepped back through the front foyer and into the living room, she sat peacefully in a dark leather chair under a cream blanket by the lit Christmas tree. The lights flickered against her porcelain skin; it was like looking through a kaleidoscope at my future.

"Hey, I was lonely when I woke up," she smiled, holding her hand out towards me. "I was worried you left."

"I was checking Willow. How's your head?"

"Actually, fine. Oh god… how bad was it? I get chatty when I'm intoxicated."

"Not bad at all. But I do apologize for them getting you drunk on my watch."

"Let me get you some coffee," she said standing. I caught her as she moved passed me. My heart and mind prepared to seize the moment. With just one phone call, she could be leaving for New York. My fingers brushed a few loose strands of hair behind her ear and I cupped her face with my hand bringing her closer. We shared a sweet, tender kiss, and soft lips grew heated. Bella answered the question burning between us. "I want you."

The blanket fell away and her hands worked their way over my chest and up to my neck, pulling me tighter. Her fingers slid back down my torso to the hem of my shirt, pulling it up over my head. She stepped back and pulled hers off exposing the most beautiful swells I'd ever seen. My breath hitched as I took in the sight of her wearing only her blue lace panties and the glow of the tree across her smooth skin. "You're… amazing," I murmured.

She stepped back into the chair and arched slightly as the chilled leather contacted her skin. Her pink nipples hardened further as a shiver tore through her. Bella's own fingers trailed slowly across her chest, teasing her soft flesh as I watched in stunned silence.

I knelt down in front of her, mirroring her hungry gaze and feathered my hands gently over her skin. When I reached her supple thighs, she reactively spread her legs further. I savored every inch of the woman I'd lusted after for so long. My lips grazed the sensitive skin on her inner thigh and the sweetness of her arousal was overwhelming.

"Touch me…" she begged quietly.

Locking her gaze, I swept my fingers over her most sensitive spot, finding wet, hot heat. Her hips moved forward searching for more. She continued caressing her breasts as I firmly held her legs in place and moved closer to her center. I made one pass over her panties with my tongue as she moaned with need. I trailed up her stomach kissing and tasting until I reached the valley between her breasts. My mouth found one nipple, sucking and teasing it with my tongue, while rolling the other with my fingers.

Bella's fingers were in my hair desperately guiding my body flush with hers. I moved up her neck and focused on the tender spot just below her ear. "Bella, I want to love you," I whispered.

"Yes… god, yes," she breathed.

I pulled her to stand with me and quickly took off my jeans. She nudged me back into the chair and slowly pulled her panties down while standing in front of me. "Fucking gorgeous…" I groaned seeing her bare slick folds in front of me. My hands gripped her thighs pulling her closer, and my thumbs teased through her wetness as she dug her fingers into my shoulders.

"Ohhhh, Edward." Her head fell back.

I worked between her folds, and then pushed two fingers into her tight heat. She moaned with the invasion, her legs trembling as my thumb rubbed small circles around her sensitive clit. I picked up the pace when I felt her walls starting to clench. "Mmmm… so good." Her eyes were fluttering and the pale pink covering her chest and face was the most stunning sight I'd ever seen. I continued to touch her as her breath caught in her throat and her thighs clenched tight; she rode the tremors of her orgasm. Her legs gave out and in one fluid motion I grabbed her around the waist and laid her on the floor in front of the tree.

Hovering over her body, I admired and adored. She reached up, cupping my face with her soft hand and nodded silently. Pushing my boxers off, Bella quickly found my hard length. She brought me to her core. I placed my hand over hers at the base and ran my cock through her wet folds. I felt her ankle at my thigh, pulling me forward as I sank into her hot center.

The vision beneath me took my breath away. Her chestnut waves framed her beautiful face with parted swollen lips, eyes fluttering. "Bella…" Once I was fully inside her warmth, she wrapped her legs around me. I rested my forehead against hers, my arms resting on either side of her head, I felt her rotate her hips ever so slightly. I pulled back and pushed in again, while I feathered kisses over her smooth skin. She met my deep thrusts, creating an intimate rhythm. Her arms held me closely to her, every breath she breathed out, I breathed in. Our stare never faltered as our bodies met over and over.

"Oh god, Edward…" she gasped.

Her body rocked and shuddered around me. The faint moan of pleasure escaping her sweet lips was all I heard as I suddenly pulsed in ecstasy. I collapsed against her, my head falling to rest on her chest. Soft tender kisses peppered the swells of her breasts as fingers moved through my hair. She purred and I hummed both sated and content.

The sun streamed new through the cracked shutters, faintly dulling the Christmas tree lights. I propped myself up on my elbow and began tracing lazy circles over her warm stomach. "Good morning."

Bella grinned and rolled onto her side mirroring me. She traced my lips lightly with her fingers. I caught her thumb between my teeth with a smile.

"You're a gorgeous man inside and out, Edward Cullen."

"See how much fun we have lovin' and livin' here in the small town of Forks, Bella."

"Hmm, I like your style of lovin' for sure." We laughed lightly, knowingly and pulled each other close.

~*~Willow~*~

Bella spoiled me with homemade banana brown sugar French toast and bacon. We took our time eating, talking, laughing and bonding. We shared our favorites in life both past and present. She was as special as I always imagined she was and I had just made love to her on Christmas morning.

Bella eagerly agreed to go to the kennel with me to take care of the daily tasks. Before we left, I greedily fucked her again in the shower under the hot water spray. Her palms were pressed against the tile, mine holding her sexy waist from behind. We moved a little faster, a little harder and were a whole lot louder.

I waited downstairs while Bella finished getting ready and realized it was almost noon. Oh shit, I should call Sue...

"Sue, it's Edward."

"Hi, Dr. Cullen. Are you on your way over for the meal?"

"Thanks Sue, but I'm spending the day with Bella."

"Oh Dr. Cullen! Really? Oh that's just wonderful. I'm so excited. Now you listen to me, Quil is at the stove stirring the gravy as we speak. He's not allowed to leave the kitchen the rest of his holiday break. Dishes… cooking… garbage… scrubbing… I'm just so sorry that sweet Bella was a blubbering drunk because of my delinquent son."

"It's alright. They're just kids having some fun. She's fine. I promise," I smirked.

"Well you two take good care of each other today and Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas Sue."

As soon as Bella hit the bottom of the stairs her lips were on mine. "Mmm you taste delicious," I told her.

"Yeah? It's probably my homemade peppermint lip balm," she quipped proudly.

"Let me guess, that's a Heidi Hale concoction…"

She rolled her eyes fighting to keep the elephant in the room caged.

We walked dogs and did all the many undignified tasks at hand in the kennel. It was quite a full house which was to be expected during the holidays. Bella reached into my best friend Jake's crate. "Be careful. That one's a little sensitive and honestly, quite ungrateful," I said in mocked warning.

Jake was loving and licking all over Bella's face. "Aww, you're just the sweetest thing, aren't you. Yes, you are…" Sneaky fucker.

We walked hand in hand to my small garage apartment behind the office. When we walked in, my broken, worn table from college was covered in white linen. On it sat two china plates full of ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, whole wheat rolls and green beans. Sue.

We snuggled into my couch after our surprise Christmas meal. Kissing, cuddling and reveling in each other, we allowed ourselves to just be. I snuck an unwrapped box into her lap. "What's this?" She asked surprised, tearing into it without hesitation. Her excitement was infectious.

Two hand-carved wooden horses fell into her hands, one small… one large. She ran her fingers over the intricate details in wonder. "Edward…" The threatening tears finished her thought.

"I bought them at the festival because they reminded me of you."

She pulled me close and kissed me with intention. I licked my lips enjoying her peppermint taste. She giggled at me, "That's it; you're getting your own tin of homemade lip balm."

We cleaned up and headed out the door. I was anxious to get back to the comfort of the ranch, determined to make the most of every minute I had Bella in my arms.

"I should probably check my phone to see if my parents left a Christmas greeting. I haven't checked it since you showed up at the ranch," she said almost to herself as we made our way to the old truck. She scrolled through her phone as she hopped into her seat. "Oh." Her look was unfamiliar, but I ventured an unpleasant guess.

"Everything okay?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes, everything's great. Perfect, actually." She smiled confidently as I shut the rusted door.

A/N

Review – Let us know what you think!

Xo
pp