Stephenie Meyer created Twilight and its characters.
I'm just trying to purge a plot bunny.
"Hello, Gorgeous." My heart began pounding as soon Edward's voice filtered through my BlackBerry and into my ear. Granted, it wasn't nearly as good as actually feeling his warm breath tickle my earlobe but nevertheless it was still a thrilling experience.
"Hello, yourself. I just wanted to let you know that I'll be leaving the office in a few minutes. How are things looking for you?"
"Great. I'm home already and almost finished packing. I was just waiting for your call."
"Ok. Give me ten minutes and I'll be on my way. My bag is ready and waiting in the living room. Oh. And Edward?"
"Yes?" He asked, his voice low and seductive.
"Pack the white shirt." I ended the call before I could give him a chance to respond.
I was smiling and giggling to myself as I strolled back into my office. It had been almost a year since the Fourth of July weekend when Edward had unexpectedly arrived at the cabin with Jasper. After a momentous and emotional weekend he had driven me back to my apartment in Seattle and, true to his word, had spent every night with me since. Within weeks he had given up his own apartment and officially moved in with me.
It all happened very quickly and the supersonic speed with which we pursued our relationship had raised more than a few eyebrows, but it was also what felt right to both of us.
So far, so good.
As I rounded the corner of my desk I discovered a plain white envelope sitting on its otherwise tidy surface. I leaned in closer to glance at it and saw that my name was written on the front. My face wrinkled in confusion when I recognized Victoria's handwriting.
After our very public argument the previous summer, I had returned to work to find an uneasy truce had been established between us. She never apologized for her outburst and I never apologized for sending my provocative email. We simply moved on with our careers. Our unspoken agreement over the months had been to remain courteous and polite to one another when necessary. The atmosphere was decidedly cool between us, but also mercifully calm.
I picked up the envelope and slowly approached the doorway, peering out into the corridor briefly. Everyone was busy at their various workstations, caught up in their daily tasks. Victoria was nowhere to be seen and I assumed she must be inside her office. I quietly closed the door and sat down at my desk to see what was waiting for me inside.
I pulled out the card and took several moments to glance at a beautiful but nondescript forest landscape photo. I found myself holding my breath as I opened it and began to read.
It was a simple note. A lovely note, really. Victoria had taken the time to write the message herself, stating that she hoped my heart was healing from the loss of my father. She expressed her sympathies on the anniversary of his death. She also wished me well and hoped I would have a relaxing time away from work.
The sentiment took me completely by surprise.
I turned my chair to face the window, trying to figure out what Victoria's motivation had been. What had changed her mind and caused her to reach out to me? Outside, the late afternoon sunshine was sparkling on the waters of the bay. It was already clear that when the sunset took place it was going to be one of those magical Seattle twilights when the sky blazed with a myriad of colors and illuminated the clouds above the city.
After a few minutes of thinking, I wasn't any closer to understanding why Victoria had left me the card. I decided to let go of suspicion and speculation and just accept the situation for what it was. With that decision made, I turned my attention to completing a few housekeeping items so I could begin my vacation.
When I exited my office I turned off the light and paused briefly to shore up my nerves. The light in Victoria's office was still on. I pushed myself away from the doorway and took in a deep breath before approaching hers.
Her back was turned to me when I reached her office, so I lightly tapped on the door.
When she turned around, Victoria's face remained impassive but her bright blue eyes displayed her curiosity.
Although I was moved by the gesture, I felt unsure about how to move forward with her. Until this moment the nature of our relationship had been firmly defined. I hesitated only slightly before getting directly to the point.
"I wanted to thank you for the card. It was very nice of you. I appreciate it."
Victoria smiled and nodded. "You're welcome, Bella. Have a good weekend."
She was giving me the option to end the conversation right then and there, but I opted to slightly push the limits.
"You too. Do you...have anything fun planned?"
She shook her head but her shoulders relaxed slightly. Her defenses were slipping.
"I thought I might go see a movie. I'm not sure. I usually decide at the last second what I'm going to do." Victoria hesitated briefly before finishing her thought. "You?"
"I'm going out of town with Edward. Up to my father's cabin."
"That sounds nice. He seems like a real catch."
I smiled fondly. "He's wonderful. I'm very lucky."
"I can see how happy he makes you. I'm glad you'll be spending the weekend away together. Have a good time."
It was the first personal conversation we had ever engaged in and before the air between us could shift and fill with any awkward tension, I decided to take my cue and waved my fingers. "I'll see you next week. Take care."
She smiled once more, before turning her attention back to her work. "You too. Bye, Bella."
The night time air was unseasonably warm at the cabin and I was having trouble falling asleep. I was also very thirsty so I quietly rose from our bed, careful not to disturb Edward.
My favorite white shirt was casually draped over a chair. I grabbed it and slid my arms into the sleeves as I silently left our room. After retrieving a bottle of water from the refrigerator, I decided to step on to the deck for a few minutes.
The air that greeted me outdoors wasn't much cooler than the interior of the house, but
it was circulating better on the porch and that was enough to encourage me to sit on the edge of one of the pillowed lounge chairs. I listened to the river as I absently drank my water and reflected back over the day.
I had been edgy and nervous in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of Charlie's death, and it was Edward who had suggested spending the weekend away together at the cabin. Sensing my need for space and reflection, no one else had ventured up to join us and we had the entire place all to ourselves.
On the drive from the city Edward had encouraged me to relax as much as possible. Upon our arrival he had practically bolted from the car over to the riding lawn mower just so I could ignore the necessary obligations of life at the cabin and simply enjoy my surroundings.
The afternoon was hot and before long Edward was perspiring, his skin glistening very nicely in the sun as he navigated the large yard. From my vantage point in the living room the sight was indeed very enjoyable.
And his efforts hadn't ended there. After showering and reappearing dressed in my favorite white shirt, he cooked us a lovely dinner. Later, he cleaned the dishes before leading me upstairs to our room where we had quietly undressed one another. Edward treated me to a full body massage that eased all the tension from my body and filled my heart with renewed love for my wonderful man. Then he simply held me in his arms as we rested in bed and spoke in between gentle and loving kisses.
I had been worried because I was strangely void of sadness despite the occasion being marked that week. However, as Edward held me and whispered to me in the moonlit room, it all became crystal clear why I was so serene. As terrible and unwelcome as my father's loss had been, the experience had brought me to Edward. He was my salvation, delivering me from my restlessness.
We were making plans for a future together, and had spent those quiet moments in one another's arms working out the essential details. The more we had spoken, the happier we both became. After an hour, we both fell silent and stared deeply into one another's eyes. I smiled as I watched his eyelids glide downward and reached out to run my fingertips through his hair as he began to draw deep, regular breaths.
My life was finally calm. My life finally had purpose. My life was finally happy.
The familiar creak of the fourth step on the staircase drew me away from my thoughts and I turned my head to wait for Edward's approach. When he emerged through the deck door, his face wore an amused expression and his body was clad only in his boxer briefs. The sight of him sent a thrilling shiver throughout my body.
"What are you doing out here?"
"I was too warm. I needed some air. I can't remember it ever being this warm so early in the year."
"Is that so?"
Edward approached and moved to sit behind me, placing his hands alongside my thighs as he began planting kisses and blowing air along the nape of my neck. I moaned in response and pushed my back against his torso.
I closed my eyes and reveled in the sweet sensation of his graceful lips as they traveled across my skin and once again the sound of the roaring waters of the river filled my ears.
And suddenly, I had a most compelling urge.
Without a word, I pulled away from Edward and stood up. I extended my hand toward his and he laced his fingers through mine. I closed my hand over his and pulled on his arm gently.
"Come with me."
I sighed and rolled my eyes.
Then I turned away from him, still pulling on his arm and leading him away from the house. My bare feet hit the cool, freshly cut grass of the lawn and I began to walk with determination across its surface.
"What are we doing, Bella?" I could hear the curiosity in Edward's voice and decided to let him figure that one out on his own. We would be reaching our destination soon enough.
When my toes touched the soft sand of the beach, I heard Edward's intake of air as he connected the dots. I was surprised when he tightened his hold on my hand and tugged gently, pulling me back slightly.
"Whoa. Wait a second, Bella."
I let go of his hand and without looking back, broke into a run. I threw myself underneath the water as soon as I felt it hit my knees. It was cold, but refreshingly so and by the time I broke through its' surface, my body was already acclimating to the temperature.
Edward stood quietly on the beach watching me as I planted my feet onto the rocky surface of the river bottom. The water was lapping at my hips and Edward's white shirt tightly hugged my curves and my breasts, accentuating every inch of my body.
It was too dark to see the expression in his eyes, but there was no mistaking the giant grin that spread across his face as he ran into the water to join me. He followed my lead and also threw his entire body underneath the water's surface before his mind had a chance to divert him from his intentions.
When he reached me he pulled me down into his arms and playfully swung me around, his lips brushing past my ear as he spoke.
"I believe I finally understand your fascination with this particular shirt."
I arched a suggestive eyebrow at him as his fingers grasped the hem of the garment. He tugged it up and freed it from my body and then turned back toward the beach with it firmly held in his hand. I casually swam in small laps, back and forth, impatient for his return.
Edward placed the soaking wet shirt carefully on a boulder, along with his boxer briefs, before rejoining me in the river.
Edward and I were sitting on the lawn near the cabin, enjoying the sunshine as it wrapped us in serene warmth. We had been chatting about everything and nothing for nearly an hour before we fell into a few moments of quiet reflection.
As his fingers gently caressed mine and his eyes were focused on their movements, I took the time to study his face. In addition to admiring his handsome features, I also took notice of his happiness and was in awe that I was responsible for bringing such contentment and peace to his life.
Just as he had done for me.
"I'm so in love with you, Edward." The words were out without an ounce of consideration or hesitation. They escaped from my body like a reflexive breath of air. "You take such good care of me. I'll never understand what I did to earn this. To deserve you."
Edward's bright green eyes rose up to meet mine and I felt his grip tighten around my hand. I waited for a few moments before he spoke.
"I've spent a lot time thinking about what brought me to you. A quick visit to see my father at the hospital made me aware of your existence. A phone call from Jasper asking for my help introduced me to you. A spontaneous decision to join him for a weekend adventure changed the course of my life. Every decision I made at the time was so unusual for me. I can't explain it, but I'll always be grateful that those were the choices I made. I can't say I was lonely before I met you, but now I can't imagine a day without you. I love you, Bella. I will always love you."
My eyes welled up with tears of happiness and he leaned forward to kiss me, but before our lips could meet we heard the motor of an approaching car and the crunch of gravel we had been expecting. We turned our attention to the driveway and smiled.
Edward rose to his feet before turning to offer me his hand.
"Are you ready for this?" he asked me the question with a hint of amusement and a tinge of nervousness.
"Absolutely," I answered, placing my hand in his once again as he helped me up from the lawn.
Together, we approached the car and waved as it parked in front of the cabin. The driver's side door opened first and Dr. Cullen emerged with a smile on his face.
"Hello, you two."
"Did you find the place ok?" Edward inquired as he moved around the car to the passenger's side.
"Oh yes. Bella's directions were quite clear." He answered before wrapping me in a welcoming embrace. "I can't wait for the tour. How are you?"
"I'm well. Thanks. Edward has been spoiling me this weekend."
"Just what I like to hear," beamed the proud father.
Carlisle led me around the car, his arm around my shoulder to join Edward and his mother, Esme, as she stepped out in the fresh air. She hugged her son warmly in greeting before snatching me away from her husband.
"Hi, Bella. It's so good to see you again. Thank you for inviting us here. This is such a beautiful place."
"You're welcome, Esme. I'm so glad you could make it."
Edward surprised us all with his next words. "Let's take a seat on the back deck."
Before any other suggestions could be offered, Edward took his mother's hand and led the way. Carlisle looked at me with curiosity, searching my face for a clue as to what was coming next. I knew, but I held my poker face.
When we reached the designated area, Edward's parents pulled their two chairs together and sat next to one another. They were relaxed and as Esme crossed her legs Carlisle reached out and placed his hand over her knee. It was gesture I had become familiar with over the months as I attended various Cullen family functions and one that I realized Edward had begun extending to me in recent weeks, both in the privacy of our apartment and out amongst the company of our friends.
For this particular conversation, however, he clasped his hands together and leaned forward resting his arms on his knees.
"I have good news..." he began. "Well...I mean...we have good news."
I laced my arm through Edward's and leaned against him as I watched Esme and Carlisle. His mother bit her lip in an effort to keep from interrupting her son as a small smile appeared on his father's face.
"I've asked Bella to marry me and she's said yes. The wedding will be here and small and soon."
As the smile on Carlisle's face grew, Esme began to practically bounce in her chair. Only her husband's hand on her knee kept her in place.
"When?" She asked excitedly.
"August thirteenth," I answered.
Esme's look of excitement suddenly shifted into surprise. "That's less than three months away."
"I know," Edward acknowledged. "But we want to be married here, outdoors, and we didn't want to wait another year for the good weather to return. We only picked the date last night."
"We don't want much," I added, knowing that Esme's mind was already spinning around all of the impending details, details I had already worked through after Edward's proposal a few weeks before. "We want our families, our close friends, and this location. That's all we need."
Esme paused long enough to look at us both carefully. I knew our certainty came across to her when her expression quickly morphed once again from surprise to acceptance and happiness. When her posture visibly relaxed, Carlisle rose from his seat.
We quickly followed his lead and he stepped over to take both my hands in his.
"This is the best news I've heard in a long time. Welcome to our family, Bella."
"Thank you," I felt my cheeks grow warm and glanced over to Edward and Esme, who were locked in an emotional hug. I watched their affection momentarily before turning my attention back to Carlisle.
"I have something I need to ask you."
His eyes crinkled in delight. "Sure. What is it?"
I had rehearsed this scene many times in my mind over the course of several weeks and had felt confident about the outcome, but I quickly felt my nerves running away with me. Carlisle correctly assessed my change in mood and tightened his grip on my hands. He waited quietly and patiently as I overcame my swirling emotions.
Edward's father and I had met exactly one year before, when he had tried to save my father's life. He had seen me at my lowest point and he had helped me through those terrible moments when I realized Charlie was lost to me forever. Carlisle had shielded me in privacy and had been truly concerned for my well-being that terrible afternoon. Beyond that, he had raised the man that I had just tied myself to for eternity, giving me the most precious gift I'd ever received.
It was that realization that put everything into its proper perspective and allowed my fears about asking a simple question to subside.
"I've thought about this and I was hoping..." I paused and took one deep breath before proceeding. "...Would you walk me down the aisle?"
Carlisle leaned in slightly closer to me, nearly touching his forehead to mine. "What about your step-father?" He spoke just above a whisper and waited for me to respond.
"Phil is a nice man and he makes my mother very happy, but they married after I was practically grown. To be honest, I've spent more time with your family than I have with him and I think Charlie would approve of this. I think he would be happy about it."
Edward's father considered my explanation briefly before closing the distance between us and kissing my forehead tenderly before pulling and looking down into my eyes. "In that case, it would be my honor."
"Thank you, Carlisle. That means so much to me."
I heard Esme sniffle and realized that our conversation had drawn her attention, along with Edward's. She left her son's side and with a few short steps, encircled me in her arms once more. We embraced without speaking, both of us fighting to hold back our happy tears.
Edward once again took charge of the moment. "Ok, then," he said while clapping his hands together, "how about that tour?"
"Yes, please," Esme answered, still holding on to me. "And then we can begin the real celebration."
As Edward began to lead Carlisle and Esme into the yard and away from the house, I decided to let him spend a few quiet moments with his parents and quietly retreated indoors. I made my way upstairs to our room, which was Charlie's old room, and sat down on the edge of the bed. I watched as Edward guided his parents to the fire pit before taking them over to our private beach and remembered vividly the day I had done the same thing with him.
I was still getting used to calling this space our room. It had been Charlie's sanctuary for as long as I could remember. I had remained reluctant to pack away my father's things, but Edward and Emmett had snuck up to the cabin just before Christmas and spent a day carefully and thoughtfully redistributing Charlie's personal items to various spots around the cabin. Then they moved the furniture around, placing Charlie's pieces into the new addition and moving everything that had been in our new addition room to the master bedroom.
When Edward and I arrived at the cabin to celebrate New Year's Eve together, he had immediately shown me where each and every one of Charlie's things had been moved to. Then he allowed me to find our bed in its new place, angled so that it faced the windows overlooking the river and the covers already drawn back.
Edward had looked concerned and nervous as I allowed the discovery to sink in. Within moments, I pulled him into my arms and pushed the bedroom door shut.
Smiling as I recalled yet another fond memory of the cabin, I turned to check the time. It was early afternoon and the day was beginning to get away from me. It was time to have some lunch and see what the rest of the weekend would bring.
As I stood up to go back downstairs, it occurred to me that I no longer felt a dread when I looked at the clock. Once in a while, I would note the three numbers that had thrown my world into chaos one morning. But I had finally reached a point where I chose to take a few moments to think about my father and recall my fondest memories of him. Over the months, I had come to understand that there were good things to recall about our years together and the joy always brought a smile to my face.
It never failed.
Thank you for stopping by to read and review my story. Although I've always drabbled, I never pushed anything through to completion and this is also the first time I've shared my writing with an audience. It was a great experience and I'm so happy I decided to pursue what happened to Bella and Edward after her nightmare.
Many thanks also to my Betas, GothicTemptress, Ishouldntbehere and Morgan Locklear. All three were valuable and supportive with their suggestions and their reactions.
I'm happy to announce that I won't be settling down for long. Morgan Locklear (aka MOG) and I have decided to write a story together. It is called EXPOSURE and the first chapter will post this coming Saturday, January 21 on this account.
We already have a discussion thread going for the new story on Twilighted. You can find the link on my Author's page. There is already a PicTease, a MusicTease and a DrabbleTease posted there, if you would like to gauge your interest.
I hope you will join us for that tale. I think it's going to be a fun ride.
Take Care and Thanks Once More,