I sat beside you and became myself, today.

Today - Joshua Radin

The day my letter from Harvard finally arrives, I feel like we've been waiting forever. My parents are out of town, and Bella is sleeping in my bed. I crawl out from beneath her warmth and run out to meet the mailman.

"Good morning, Frank. How are you?"

"I'm just fine, Edward. It's good to see you, son." He hands me our mail before tipping his hat and driving away.

I sort through the envelopes once I make my way back inside and find the Harvard stationary at the bottom of the pile. The envelope is larger than an ordinary letter but not as big as I expect it to be and a sense of dread falls over me. My acceptance from SC came in a huge manila package. This can't be good.

"Dear Mr. Edward A. Cullen,
I am delighted to inform you that the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid has voted to offer you a place in the Harvard class of 2016. Following an old Harvard tradition, a certificate of admissions is enclosed. Please accept my personal congratulations for your outstanding achievements..."

That's all I need to see before I am running back into my house and taking the stairs two at a time.

"BELLA! BELLA, WAKE UP! I'M IN, BABY!" I run into my room and jump on my bed.

"What the hell, Edward? What are you screaming about?" Her face is angry, but it's hard to take her seriously when she is all sleep rumpled and bleary eyed.

I pull the acceptance certificate out of the envelope and show it to her. "I'm going to Harvard! I got in! We're going east together!" I let myself fall down on top of her, and she giggles as I scatter kisses across her face.

"Edward! Stop it!" She is giggling and trying to push me off of her, though her effort is seriously lacking.

"Don't tell me to stop, babe. I don't think I can! I'm so happy. Aren't you happy?" I give her my best pouty face, the one she can't resist.

"Of course I'm happy." Her eyes tell a different story. "Are you sure you're going to be okay with giving up SC to go to Harvard? It's California, Edward."

"Are you going to be in California, Bells?" I ask, already knowing the answer.

"No, I'm going to be in Rhode Island at Brown." She doesn't look at me when she talks and it makes me want to kiss her again.

"Then I don't want to be in California. SC is 2600 miles away from Brown, Bella. You know how far Harvard is from Brown?" I don't wait for her to answer. "Forty miles, forty. That means it will take me less than an hour to get to you. We'll be able to see each other every day, Bella. Don't you want that?"

When she looks at me, her eyes are shiny and her smile almost breaks my heart. "Yes, I want that! We'll only be forty miles apart? Really?" Now she is the one kissing my face.

"Yup. You can Google it! I did." I laugh and squeeze her to me.

"Is this really happening? Are we going to get everything we want right now?" Her smile is blinding and her eyes shine with tears again.

"Looks that way, baby. I am so unbelievably happy. Who should we tell first? Carlisle is going to flip his shit, but Charlie is going to be really happy you won't be all the way across the country all alone."

"Can we just keep it to ourselves for a little while? I want to lay here and love you and love the idea of spending the next four years so close to you." She asks me as if I can deny her anything. The kiss she gives is sweet and holds the promise of more.

So I give her what she wants because let's be honest all I want in this moment is my girl. I can feel her heartbeat when I kiss the soft skin between her breasts, and the sound she makes as her fingers curl in my hair is what my dreams are made of.

I feel her fingers in my hair and her breath against my neck. Sometimes I still can't believe that she is mine, that she wants me like this. So much has happened since our fateful Prom night. There is no doubt we are where we are meant to be or that I love her with all of my heart. I can't imagine how I lived without her, how I ever thought I was happy before her. My Bella is the window to my entire universe. There is nothing in my sky without her, and I tell her just that as I slip slowly inside her.

There is no feeling like this in the world, holding her to me, no sign of where she stops and where I begin.

I hold my breath as she whispers my name, knowing that she is feeling exactly what I am. Her arms pull my face down to hers, and she begs me to kiss her. I do, hungrily... greedily. I know there is no way I will last much longer. I'm on sensory overload. I slide my hand between us and tease her with my fingertips. Her breathing picks up and dirty words fall from her beautiful lips. I do every single thing that she asks for: faster, harder, more. I give her all of me and I watch her fall apart beneath me. Best moment of the day, Harvard acceptance included.

He is amazing. Edward is actually incredible. I have no idea how I got so lucky, but somehow I did. The thought of getting to leave Forks for the East Coast with him by my side makes me happier than I think it should. I had been prepared to go alone, and settle in 3000 miles away from him. Thank God that isn't going to happen. Again, how am I so lucky?

I watch him sleep next to me, knowing his parents will soon be home to burst our little bubble. Not that it is a bad thing because they are going to be so excited to hear his news. Who wouldn't be happy about their kid getting into Harvard? Harvard. Have I mentioned that he is amazing? Spectacular might be a better word.

"What are you thinking so hard about, beautiful? I think I can actually hear the wheels turning in that pretty head of yours," he asks without opening his eyes.

"How do you even know I'm awake? You wore me out earlier, stud." I snuggle closer to him and kiss across his collarbone.

A sly smile tugs at the corners of his lips. "I can tell by you the way you're breathing. I know what you sound like when you sleep."

"Creepy much, Eddie? You know what I sound like when I sleep?" I can't hold in my loud laughter when he starts to tickle my sides.

"Knock it off! I'm gonna pee my pants!" I try to pull away from him, though I don't try very hard. Eventually I pull free and straddle his hips. "Aww… this is better." I rock my hips over him and watch his eyes close.

"Damn, Bella. I thought you said I wore you out," he says through gritted teeth. I love that I can do this to him, that he wants me this much.

His hands go to my hips and guide me the way he way wants me. I swivel as he thrusts and eventually I work my way down his body until I can reach him with my mouth. I hear his breath hitch, and it makes me smile. It isn't often that I do this for him, but he's giving up California for me. I love the shit out of him right now.

"Bella, my parents are going to be here any minute." His voice is barely a whisper.

"I know," I say before gently licking his right thigh. "Quiet down so I can get to work." When I smirk up at him he flops down and covers his eyes.

He does and I do. The sounds he makes gets me so worked up I beg him to touch me before he comes. He smirks down at me before dragging me up to my hands and knees and taking me hard from behind. The feeling of his weight on me and his fingers digging into my hips is too much, and I scream his name as bright lights flash behind my eyelids.

"Holy shit, girl. I think my heart just exploded! What are you doing to me, with this sudden unquenchable desire for my cock?"

His lips are still on the back of my neck, and I can feel him smile against my skin."That's a little exaggerated, don't you think?" I flop down on my belly and giggle at his words.

"Did you just beg, Bella?" he slides off of me and throws his arm across my back.

"Yes," I whisper.

"Then no, it wasn't an exaggeration." We both laugh and he pulls me closer to him as he turns over to his back.

We both get up and wash up, trying to make ourselves presentable for his parents' arrival, but to our surprise there is a message waiting on Edward's voicemail saying that they are running later than they thought and they won't be home until later this evening.
To Edward, this means that we have more time to spend naked but I have other ideas.

"Let's make them dinner and bake some Harvard cookies to tell them your big news." I am giddy and kind of bouncing around the kitchen while he makes coffee.

"You mean you want to cook and bake because you know I can't do either of those things. And I also didn't know that Harvard had their own special cookies. How did you know that?" His face is serious, so I know the ridiculous question isn't meant to be funny.

I laugh so loudly I have to stop and catch my breath before I can answer him. "I just meant that we could bake cookies and decorate them in a way that would celebrate your new school. I don't think that Harvard has their own cookies, babe."

He tosses me onto the sofa and attacks me with kisses. We lay there for a bit, touching and trying to agree on a menu for tonight. I finally decide on making my famous fried chicken and mashed potatoes to go along with the cookies.

I set Edward up in the kitchen with the ingredients of the cookie dough while I run to the store for chicken, potatoes and food coloring to make the cookie frosting crimson red. This is going to be so fun.

Edward and I spend the rest of the day in the kitchen. Once I have all of the dinner food ready, we get to work on the cookies. Needless to say we end up covered in flour and sticky with dough. There is kissing and at one point he even licks the sweet mixture off of my cheek. It's a perfect moment, and I'm even more thankful Edward is going to college with me.


Dinner is a hit. Carlisle and Esme both compliment me repeatedly as we eat. The few times I look at Edward, he is so engrossed in his meal that he doesn't even notice my gaze. I can feel the nervous energy radiating off of Edward, and I wish he would just calm down. We had talked about every possible scenario that could play out after he told them his news; there isn't any possible way that this could go badly.

Finally, when everyone has had their fill, Edward and I begin to clear the table. Once we're alone in the kitchen, we set our plan into motion.

"I can't wait to take this tray out to the table, babe. They are going to flip their shit." He whisper yells at me as he grabs my hands and dances me around the kitchen.

"Edward, you have to calm down or you are going to ruin the surprise. I'm going to arrange these cookies on the tray. You grab the coffee and the mugs." Now I'm whispering.

He does as I ask and walks back into the dining room while I arrange our cookie creations around his Harvard acceptance certificate on the tray. When I'm satisfied that everything is perfect, I make my way into the dining room as well. I set the platter on the table, step back, and wait for their reaction.

"Wow, Bella! You made dessert, too? You didn't have to do that," Esme exclaims as she reached for the coffee.

"Son! What is this? Is it real?" Carlisle is on his feet with the certificate in his hand, his cookie long forgotten.

"Carlisle, what is it? Is it really necessary for you to shout?" Esme does not look amused as she passes a cup of coffee out to each of us.

When she comes to stand next to her husband, the mug she is holding falls out of her hand. "Edward! Is this real?!"

"It's real, Mom. I got into Harvard!" He laughs as they both wrap their arms around him in some sappy Cullen group hug. Truth be told, I get a little teary at the sight. I decide to
give them some privacy. "I'm just gonna head out. Call me later, Edward."

"Isabella Swan, you get back over here and let us hug you! This is a celebration. My two babies are going to college!" Esme is laughing and crying at the same time, holding her arms out for me to step into. And I do.

After we are all hugged out, Carlisle pulls out a bottle of champagne that " he has been saving for a special occasion" and we toast to the future. Our future, a future that excites me beyond words. A future that up until now has only been a dream.

I think of how lucky we are to have each other because our lives could have gone such a different way. I thank God for all of the missteps and mishaps- no matter how embarrassing they were- because it took every single one of them to bring us to where we are today.

I like to think that somehow I always knew that I would end up with Edward, that we were meant to be. I know I will love him for the rest of my life, and as he looks at me across his parent's dining room table, I know he feels the same way. I can feel his heart, I can feel his love.

And when I sit beside him, I become myself, today.

A/N: This was originally written for the Stand Up For Katalina compilation, many thanks to everyone who contributed to this very worthy cause. It is definitely the closest to my heart. To those of you that are fighting for your lives, or holding the hand of a loved one who is fighting for their lives, never give up. You are in my prayers.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to my best friend, Joshua Robinson, who I lost to cancer almost ten years ago. His light still guides me through each day.