Life got in the way. Again. ...sigh...

I do not own Twilight, but hot hockey players are all mine. ALL OF THEM =)

Playlist: Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men


As she watched Mike retreat from her office, Bella sank back into her desk chair and let out a long sigh of relief. She hadn't felt this light and free of burden in weeks and she couldn't wait to tell Edward the good news. She checked her watch before deciding that he'd probably be on the plane with the team but decided to attempt to reach him by text. She was too excited to wait until he landed back in Pittsburgh.

All clear :) She typed out quickly as she set about shutting her computer down and gathering her coat.

All clear meaning…? He responded a few minutes later.

I talked to Mike. He knows about us and we're all clear.

So I'm no longer your secret lover then?

Nope, you're my public lover now.

Baby, you know better than to give me ideas like that.

No I don't ;)

Remind me again why I'm on an airplane full of hairy guys and you're somewhere miles down below instead of here with me right now?

Because you're a sports icon and I'm just a lowly reporter. Besides, I don't think I'd want to be on the hairy man plane with you. They get to see you naked enough as it is and what I'd like to be doing right now requires a certain level of privacy, if you know what I mean.

There's always the bathroom.

Why Mr. Cullen, are you propositioning me to join the Mile High Club with you?

Airplane bathroom; Number 29 on the list of 101 places I want to make you mine.

I'm already yours, now it's just public knowledge.

And I'm yours. That doesn't mean I wouldn't give my right arm to have you naked and on my lap right now.

Good to know, but I'd rather you kept both of your arms intact. All the better to hold me down with ;)

That's it; I'm hijacking this plane with a butter knife and landing it on the roof of your building.

Try to stay out of prison, okay? Conjugal visits aren't really my thing.

Duly noted.

Save it until we can see each other again, tiger.

Oh that's cute, you think I haven't been jerking off every chance I get thinking about you.

Lol it hadn't occurred to me, actually.

Believe me. All. The. Time.

Seriously?

You have no idea.

I'm flattered, I think.

Who else would I fantasize about?

Some porn star, I guess.

I'd much rather make a few movies with you, beautiful.

Is that so?

Oh yes. In fact, now I think I know what will be occupying my thoughts as soon as I get away from the guys. Me, taking pictures of that incredible body of yours spread out on my bed. It's making me hard right now just thinking about it.

Calm it down. I don't want Emmett to get any ideas. ;)

Emmett I can handle. It's you that makes me nervous.

Me? I don't bite.

Yes you do. I've got the teeth marks on my shoulder to prove it!

Oops ;)

.~.~.~.~.~.

With his day off for the holiday, Edward started the morning off by sleeping late. Though his internal alarm clock roused him at a decent hour more often than not, this morning he was too occupied with much different dreams than he was used to; dreams that made him very reluctant to leave unconsciousness.

Instead of his recurring nightmare of seeing college Bella at the bar with another man, this time, when he saw her standing at the bar with her back to him, he strode confidently up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She sighed and relaxed into his body before turning and throwing her arms around his neck.

"I love you," she mouthed over the hum of the bar, and he bent down to kiss her. The next thing he knew, the two of them were alone on his bed, her long, dark hair fanned out across plush pillows beneath them. She was his for the taking and his body craved a connection with hers.

He allowed his mouth to explore every inch of her skin, all barriers between them melting away as he blazed a path. Every sigh, moan, and undulation urged him further until there wasn't a single part of her that wasn't burning for him.

"Edward," she sighed, her voice a deep, husky whisper. "Please… I need you."

"You have me," he whispered in response before sinking into her completely. She let out a high, keening cry of pleasure that made him feel more powerful than he'd ever felt in his entire life.

"More…" she moaned. "Don't stop," as her lips grazed his ear and her fingers wound tightly into the hair at the base of his neck.

"Never," he growled.

"Knock knock!" a distant, sing-song voice interrupted the euphoric symphony that was Bella's sex noises. "Mr. Cullen? Are you home?"

He groaned and rolled clumsily out of bed and shuffled toward his bedroom door.

"Hello? Mr. Cull—" but the woman stopped short when he abruptly flung the door open.

"Yes Lauren, I'm home. I know you usually start up here, but if you wouldn't mind starting with the basement this morning, I'll just grab a shower and be out of your hair shortly."

"Uhh… I umm… I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," the cleaning woman stammered as her cheeks flamed crimson.

"No, no, its fine. I needed to get up anyway," he replied with a rake of his hands down his face and into his unruly hair.

"Well… I guess I'll just… I'll just get started then," she mumbled before making a hasty retreat down the stairs.

Weird, he thought. She's not normally so jumpy.

"Actually Lauren," he said, interrupting her escape. "It's thanksgiving. What are you even doing here? Go home to your family and I'll just see you next week, ok?"

"Oh… o-okay. Thank you, Mr. Cullen. Next week." She dipped her head and kept her eyes averted toward the floor as she backed down the stairs and out of sight.

He reclosed the bedroom door and shuffled lazily into the bathroom and what he saw in the mirror explained Lauren's behavior completely. Staring back at him was the tented front of his flannel pajama bottoms; a single button straining to hold the opening closed to conceal his raging hard on.

"Oh Bella's going to love hearing about this," he laughed to his reflection.

.~.~.~.~.~.~.

"Things are getting…I don't know… serious, I guess," Jasper said over thanksgiving dinner at the Sullivan house.

"How serious?" Emmett asked with a cocked eyebrow, mouth full.

"Emmett, seriously? You're as bad as the kids. Chew your food," Charlotte sighed with an exaggerated eye roll. "I didn't spend all day in the kitchen just to have this nice meal fly out of your mouth and splatter all over my table."

"Sorry Char," he said sheepishly.

Jasper grinned before continuing. "We've talked about the idea of staying in town and spending Christmas together, just the two of us," he replied, his light blue eyes falling to his plate.

"What the fuck, Jazz?!" the perpetual bachelor exclaimed, banging his water glass on the table.

"Emmett!" Charlotte admonished while the Sullivan children snickered behind their napkins.

"Sorry Char, but really, dude, you can't be serious! You've known this girl for all of five minutes!"

"I am," Jasper said, lifting his head with a new wave of confidence and looking his goaltender squarely in the eye. "Alice means a lot to me and all I really want right now is to be with her."

"Have you told your parents yet?" Charlotte asked gently.

"No, but they'll just have to understand." He frowned at the double helping of turkey and stuffing that lay untouched on his plate. "I know it probably seems crazy but I guess sometimes you just… know. I don't even know what I know yet, but I know something. Edward, help me out here."

The forward, who had up to this point remained silent, stared back at his friend.

"I say do whatever you want, man. I know right now I'd sure as hell rather be with Bella than just about anywhere else, so I can't say I blame you for wanting to spend the holidays with Alice."

Emmett sat back away from the table and threw his arms up into the air.

"For crying out loud, has everybody around here lost their damn minds?"

"I think it's sweet, you and Alice," Charlotte beamed across the table. "She makes you happy and that's all that matters. Just be prepared for the consequences if you two actually go through with it. I know I'd be pretty upset if my daughter opted not to come home for Christmas to spend it with a guy she'd only been seeing for a short time." Cassie, the oldest Sullivan child, giggled. "So don't get any ideas," she said to her daughter with a conspiratorial grin.

"What are you and Bella going to do for the holiday? Have you two talked about it?" Peter asked.

"Uhh… no. I know my parents would like for me to come home, but I'm pretty sure they've already ruled that out since we have a game on the 26th. Things have been a little hectic with Bella's job lately so we haven't had much of an opportunity to talk it over."

"Well whatever you decide, you know you're always welcome here with us; Bella too, if she's with you," the team captain said with a smile. "You too, Emmett, but no unexpected guests this time, okay?"

"Yeah yeah, I know. Listen that only happened the one time and it was only because I lost track of what day it was. And I had to deal with obsessive phone calls and texts for two months after that. Jeez, you'd think a girl could take a hint." Emmett shoveled a heaping forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth for emphasis.

Charlotte leaned across the table and laid her hand over her daughter's. "Cassie, honey, I'm glad you're hearing this now. Red flag number one; if the boy you're dating can't figure out a calendar, he's probably not the one for you."

"Oh ha ha, very funny," Emmett scoffed. "Look, I'm a dog, okay? I admit it. But at least I don't pretend to be something I'm not. And no Cass; a guy like me is definitely not the guy for a sweet girl like you. But there are plenty of not-so-sweet girls out there who need a little time and attention too."

"How charitable of you," Jasper laughed.

"Just call me Mother effing Teresa."

.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

"So," Edward yawned into the phone. "How was your Thanksgiving?"

"It was great. Angela is an amazing cook, of course. And her parents were in town along with Ben's, so it was nice to have a little bit of parental interaction, even if it wasn't with my own."

"Yeah, you had originally planned on going home, right? What changed your mind?"

"With everything that was going on with Riley, I thought the long holiday weekend would be a great way for me to go back to Forks and enjoy some time with my dad, a little small town anonymity, and just escape for a while. But apparently a few weeks ago, my dad finally worked up the nerve to ask his longtime friend, Sue Clearwater out for coffee. She said yes, and they've been pretty inseparable ever since. My dad isn't much of a cook so Sue asked if he wanted to spend the holiday with her and her family. When I talked to my dad about me going home, he said I was welcome to come over to Sue's as well, but I didn't want to encroach on their little honeymoon period. Plus, Sue's son was a few years behind me in school and he was always a sweet kid, but a little creepy. I think he may have had a bit of a thing for me back in the day and I've had quite enough of that for a while, thank you very much."

"Well, I'm glad you had a good day, babe," he mumbled groggily.

"I wish we could have spent it together but we knew things like this were inevitably going to happen," she said without thinking.

"Doesn't have to," he said through a thick yawn.

"Oh?"

"There's always Christmas."

Bella fumbled over her words, not entirely sure how to interpret what she thought he might be suggesting. She definitely wanted to see him, but she wasn't sure she was ready for this just yet.

"Oh well… I thought I might see you over Christmas if you were coming back to see your parents but…"

"Come on, Bella. You can't really be that surprised that I'd want to spend Christmas with my girlfriend, can you?" he chuckled. "I can't go to my parent's; we have a game the next day and the travel would be too much of a pain in the ass. But you could come to me and let me spoil you for a couple days."

"I don't need spoiling—"

"Doesn't mean I don't want to do it," he interjected.

Bella felt her cheeks warm and an involuntary smile tug her lips up at the corners.

"So you're going to make me brave the hellacious holiday travel scene? Busy airports, crying babies, and all that?"

"Oh come on, baby." His voice dropped to the warm molten honey tone that sent chills down her spine. "I'll make it worth your while."

She stretched across her bed as her smile spread further across her face.

"Let me think about it, okay?"

"Take all the time you need, but you and I both know what you really want," he said, his voice thick and husky. "It's the same thing I want."

"Good night, Edward," her voice waivered slightly as she tried her best to keep the giddy excitement from slipping into her tone.

"Good night, beautiful."

Bella's heart thrummed wildly in her chest. It was incredible to her how such simple words from him could illicit such an enthusiastic response from her without her even giving it a second thought. She chewed her bottom lip through her permanent smile, which she fought with all her might, and analyzed the meaning behind every butterfly in her stomach.

It's perfectly normal to get excited when he says he wants you to come visit him.

But isn't spending Christmas together sort of putting the cart before the horse? We're already moving forward at a mile a minute as it is. This isn't normal.

What difference does 'normal' make anyway? We've already proven that what we're supposed to do and what Edward and I actually do don't always make sense on paper, but somehow it just works.

What about Charlie? How will he feel if you don't come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas? He probably will barely notice. He's happy to just spend time with his special someone, just like you should be.

After several long minutes alone with her conflicting thoughts, she finally picked up her phone and dialed Angela's number.

"You didn't get enough of me for one day, huh?" her best friend answered, sleepily.

"Oh come on, you know I can never get enough of you, Ang."

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Swan," she laughed. "What's up?"

"I just talked to Edward."

"And?"

"And he wants to spend Christmas together."

"That's awesome! What did you tell him?" she gushed, suddenly excited and no longer sounding sluggish at all.

"I told him I'd think about it."

"Alright Bella, this has gone on long enough," she said sternly.

"The boy loves you; he goes out of his way time and time again to prove it to you. There is no reason why you should be fighting this anymore."

"I know Ang, but I just… I don't know how to be somebody's girlfriend. I don't know how to be his girlfriend. I can't shake this feeling that suddenly the other shoe is going to drop and I'm going to be left picking up the pieces he's left behind."

Angela sighed from the other end of the line.

"Remember I'm saying this to you because you're my best friend in the entire world and I love you but you've got to stop being such a pussy about this! That fear? It never goes away. Hell, Ben could walk out on me any day if he really wanted to, but I have faith that what we have is strong enough to keep that from happening. It's not always picnic and you can't expect it to be. The fear is what makes what you and Edward are doing exciting and fun! If you let what terrifies you most hold you back from possibly achieving the greatest happiness of your life, then what's the point of living? If you insist on living in fear then you may as well go crawl into a hole and die. Because, I hate to break it to you, kid; life is scary.

"Now I'm not saying that Edward is your 'one true love' or anything nearly that grandiose and romantic, but he could be. And you'll never know if you don't let yourself experience what's happening all around you. "So I say you visit him for Christmas and who knows? Maybe you'll finally get over yourself and actually stop worrying for five seconds andhave a good time."

"Okay but—"

"But nothing, Bella! What more do you want the guy to do? Tattoo 'property of Bella Swan' on his ass so that even the guys in the locker room know that he's off limits? Jesus girl, you're maddening sometimes, you know that? Have you even told him you love him yet?"

"I told him how I felt in the email I sent when I left Pittsburgh."

"No. Have you told him?" Angela's tone was laden with implication.

"Well… no. It's just… it's hard to get the words out. He knows how I feel!"

"Does he say it to you?"

"Yeah, all the time."

"Don't kid yourself into thinking he hasn't noticed the fact that you can't or won't say it back to him. Believe me, he's definitely noticed. And the fact that he still says it, the fact that he's waiting pretty fucking patiently for you to say it back is proof enough that he's worth the risk of heartbreak, Bella.

"James hurt you, I know he did. But you went through all of that for a reason and now you're stronger for it. And Edward isn't James, Bella. Edward isn't James so you've got to stop acting like he is or his patience is going to run out and you're going to lose him."

Sometime during their conversation the tears began to flow silently down her cheeks and Bella didn't attempt to wipe them away for a long while. Her friend's words were cutting but true and she knew in her heart of hearts that Angela was right. Edward was only human; how long could he wait for her to finally come around to where he wanted her to be?

"B, I know this is hard to hear and I completely understand if you're pissed at me. But I love you, and I'd be a bad friend if I didn't give it to you straight. You and I have always had a zero bullshit policy and now is no different. I'm really tired so I'm going to go to bed. Call me whenever you feel like talking, okay? Love you."

And with that the line went dead and she was left alone with her thoughts again.


I apologize for this chapter taking so long. We're at a bit of a pivotal point in the story and I had the hardest time trying to steer things in the direction I want them to go. Hopefully the next one won't take quite so long to chunk out.

I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you're as excited for the hockey lockout to be over as I am!

Review!