A/N: This is a birthday fic written for my amazing, wonderful and brilliant beta and friend, ms. ambrosia. It's something EXTREMELY different for me. Andy, I hope you like it. I wrote it specifically with you in mind.
Also, a huge thanks to ArcadianMaggie for stepping in as beta! I couldn't very well have asked ms. ambrosia to do it; it would have ruined the surprise.
Original inspiration for this fic was from a banner by Beautiful Liar I adopted in the twificpics garage sale. The banner was inspired by a song, which is where the title of the fic comes from. Link to the banner is on my profile. It's truly a gorgeous banner. :)
Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own these characters and get no money from writing about them.
The breeze blowing in from across the ocean caressed Bella's face like the lover she had never known. The scent of salt and sun surrounded her, held her, like they knew her intimately. She searched for love, though not of the romantic variety.
She had traveled over 3,000 miles in search of her father, a man she had never met. The child of adoptive parents, Bella had found out nearly seven years prior how unwanted she had been by the only father she had ever known. As soon as she grew old enough to be considered a woman, she left what she knew to find a place she belonged. She wanted it to be this place, with beaches foreign yet the smell of the sea so familiar. It felt like recognizing an old friend in a new place, providing her comfort and aiding to hamper her fear.
Bella searched for a man named Charles Swan. He had moved to South Carolina shortly after she was born from what she could find out, and had remained there since. Her search was complete, his address burning in her pocket. She feared being turned away, so she prolonged her daydreaming about what he was like, why she had been given up. Maybe he was a doctor. Perhaps he knew his calling had been to aid the poverty stricken members of society, and because of that, he realized a child would be neglected. Long hours away and traveling for Doctors Without Borders would not suit the family life.
Maybe he repaired steeples on churches, climbing to dizzying heights, and he did not want to put a child through the fear of her father's life constantly in danger. He could be a shoe salesman, a writer, a glass blower, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker for all she knew. She did know, however, that she wanted, no, she needed to know whose brown eyes she had, whose pale skin covered her, whose blood pumped through her veins. The stranger in the mirror grew more restless with each moment as it passed.
The day was brand new, the sun peeking over the edge of the world and smiling like a child, budding the hope she carried.
What a miracle life is, she thought. Being given years and years of chances to get it right.
She hoped what she did was right. Bella had spent most of her life's savings-hours of babysitting and yard mowing and house cleaning—making the trip cross-country. Putting college on hold, no place to live, no guarantees of anything. She simply left her tiny town in Washington state, nothing certain but her positive outlook.
But something about the sunrise, the sound of the waves, told her she was in the right place.
Fated, she thought, sitting with her toes buried in the sand, searching out the coolness underneath. Like sand could be transformed into glass, she could be Bella Swan.
She watched a lone surfer paddle out into the waves, almost resenting him for interrupting her solitude, the last vestiges of a halcyon morning. Mindlessly, she gazed at him catching a wave, standing up, breaking the quiet with an exclamation of glee as he rode. He fell from his board, and it took several moments for Bella to comprehend he had yet to resurface.
Looking to the left and right, she found no one to go in after him. No one inhabited the stretch of beach on which she sat, save a jogger that seemed miles away. Bella removed the backpack she carried, panic forcing her into the water.
The choppy waves seemed to push her back, inviting her to make her way back to the beach, to forget the random stranger the water had greedily gulped. She struggled to the place she had last seen him and dove under, opening her eyes and forcing them wide against the sting of salt. Searching and searching, she could not see him. Bella resurfaced, took a quick inhale and went back under. Again, she could not find him.
God, please don't let him be dead. I don't want to see a dead body. Not again. Not again. Never again.
After resurfacing a third time, Bella looked around her, noticing the floating surfboard several feet away. Shifting her eyes towards the beach, she saw the surfer struggling onto shore, collapsing into the sand and rolling onto his back.
From where she tread water, it appeared as though his head was bleeding, on his face a smile.
Bella's arms and legs were exhausted; she grew angry as she fought the waves back to shore. Once there, she approached the surfer, his arm carelessly slung over his eyes as he chuckled quietly.
"What the hell?" Bella stood over him, casting him in shadow, making her feel much bigger than she was.
The surfer removed his arm from his face and squinted at her, the blood from a large cut on his forehead streaming into his eyes, down the bridge of his nose. Still, he smiled. "Who are you?"
Bella crossed her arms over her chest, cupped her elbows in her hands. She turned her head towards the sky, then back down. She dropped her arms to the side for a moment, then crossed them again, feeling suddenly awkward and small again under his scrutiny.
"Who are you?" she countered, finding her anger evaporating. The surfer was rather handsome, even with blood on his face and sand in his hair.
"Edward," he replied, sitting up and putting a hand to his forehead, grimacing at the blood, then smiling again.
"Well, Edward, I thought you were dead. And what are you doing on a surfboard without a leash?"
"Hey, uh, You, do you have a towel or something?" The surfer splayed his hands and pointed to the blood covering them like macabre finger paint. Bella opened her mouth and closed it. Without saying anything, she walked the short distance to her pack and jerked her beach towel from the ground, shaking the sand from it. She made the trek back and handed it to the surfer silently. She cringed when she saw all the fresh blood staining her towel, one of only two she possessed. Blood made her squeamish. She decided she would let the surfer keep the towel.
"Why are you here?" Bella asked.
"I like the sound of Myrtle. You know, Myrtle Beach? After you say it a bunch of times it doesn't make sense anymore. Myrtle, myrtle, myrtle, myrtle."
Squatting down so she could be at eye level, Bella glared at Edward, checking his eyes for dilation. Surely, he had a concussion.
"I mean, what are you doing out here on your own? With a worn out board?"
"Oh, that? I bought that from a guy for twenty bucks. He wanted to give it away, but I insisted. I've always wanted to surf. Did you know that you have really pretty eyelashes?" He leaned forward and shielded his eyes with his hand. Bella backed away, stood up.
"You've never surfed? And you're out here just giving it a go?" She decided to ignore the comment about her eyelashes. It did not seem right to accept compliments from concussed strangers. The jogger who had seemed miles away passed them now, and Bella glanced in her direction with a pleading expression. The jogger looked at her briefly but continued on without stopping.
"Your eyelashes have drops of water everywhere, and the sun is catching them just right. They're sparkling," he said, smiling like a fool.
Bella could not respond. It was obvious the surfer was crazy, not just from a head injury, but insane in a more prolonged way. This was the kind of person she should steer clear of, handsome or not.
"Keep the towel," she said, turning to go, wondering why he had nothing of his own.
"Hey! Uh, You! Wait!" he called, stumbling to his feet. Bella ignored him, scooped up her pack and focused on putting as much distance between herself and the surfer as possible. She was surprised when he caught her arm. She stared at his hand, and, as though her glare burned him, he let go. "I'm sorry you messed up your hair to come save me and I wasn't dead."
"Don't apologize for living," Bella replied. "And what's wrong with my hair?"
The surfer, Edward, laughed and started pulling stringy seaweed from Bella's head, holding it up for her inspection. His teeth were straight and his lips very pink, like the petals of a flower. She thought of how she used to marvel over the flowers she planted with her mother, springing up over night and then finding them a few days later with blooms unabashedly searching for sun. Her own growth had been slow, her child's mind unable to grasp something could mature so quickly. His eyes were green, the same shade as the seaweed he held.
"Your eyes are seaweed green," she said.
"Thanks," he replied, looking pleased. Bella knew he meant it. She smiled at him.
"There you are. That's you. You, you're not You without a smile," he said, as though he knew her.
"My name is Bella," she offered. "You can stop calling me You." The need she had felt to get away seemed to melt from the warmth of his smile. He stood close to her, like a friend might.
"Let me buy you lunch today, to make up for my behavior, Bella," said her five-minute-friend Edward.
She thought over the invitation. She knew she looked a mess, could not meet Charles Swan looking that way. Putting it off would not hurt. Eighteen years had passed; what would a few more hours do? And maybe the surfer was crazy, but she did not fear him.
"Okay," she agreed, attempting to sound reluctant and unimpressed. "Where and when?" Why she felt excited, she did not know.
Bella prepared to meet Edward, wondering what, exactly, she was doing. She knew nothing of him, other than he felt the need to nearly drown, he liked to say "myrtle" and he probably had a concussion.
In the past, she had always been frightened of everything—spiders, airplanes, large dogs, being alone. Yet, there she was, out on her lonesome, finding her own way. Maybe that was what Edward was doing too: finding his own way. In him, she sensed a kind of kinship she did not want to ignore.
The address Edward had given her, Bella was amused to find, was for a souvenir shop with a hot dog cart outside.
Bella cocked her head to the side when she saw him standing there, worn out flip flops, ragged khakis and polo shirt, like a prep school reject. The sun in the middle of the sky made his hair copper, his well-past five o'clock shadow adding to his rumpled appearance. He looked lost and found and perfectly comfortable being a paradox.
"Hey, You!" he exclaimed upon seeing Bella. Noticing the look on her face, he added, "I'm not a wealthy guy, but you won't find cuisine such as this anywhere else." The teenager working the cart smirked and rolled his eyes.
"But I'm a vegetarian," Bella said, amazed that she could keep a straight face while telling such a lie.
Edward did not miss a beat. "The hot dog buns don't have meat. You know, I knew a guy once who didn't eat meat. He died."
"He died? From not eating meat?"
"No, he was struck by lightning walking into a health food store to buy tofurkey."
Bella tried to formulate a reply when Edward burst out laughing.
"You eat meat," Edward finally said after his laughter had died down to the occasional snort.
"How would you know?" Bella asked, indignant.
"The towel you gave me smelled like beef jerky." He grinned and took Bella's hand. "Come with me," Edward requested, paying for two hot dogs and taking them with his free hand.
"Where will you take me?" Bella asked, thinking wherever it was, she would go.
"You'll know soon enough."
Edward guided her across the boardwalk, weaving between tourists and glancing in windows of different shops. All the while, Edward held her hand. Neither man nor boy had held her hand like this, other than family. Her father, the one who had adopted her, took her hand as they crossed the street, but only for that purpose, and only when she was very young. The sensation of Edward's fingers next to hers was strange and thrilling.
They stopped abruptly in front of a sign advertising an amusement park, the gates a mere football field away. Edward thrust a hot dog into Bella's hands. "Eat. You'll be glad you did."
Edward waited for Bella to take a bite before asking, "So, do you live around here?"
She shook her head, trying to chew quickly. "You're like a dentist, asking a question when I can't possibly answer."
"No, I'm just like me. Notice, I asked a yes or no question. A dentist's question would be much more involved."
"Are you from here?"
"No. Chicago. I'm here because I've never been," he answered, leaving it at that as though it were the only plausible explanation. Bella thought of all the places she had never been.
"You seem to know your way around." Bella took another bite of her hot dog, loathe to admit it was the best hot dog she could remember having.
Edward ate his hot dog in two bites. "I've been here two weeks. I, uh, actually have to leave in the morning." His expression seemed almost guilty as he spoke, and his mouth moved as though to apologize. Bella needed him not to, although the idea of knowing him for such a short time made her feel as though she did need an apology from someone.
"I don't know where I'll be in the morning," Bella admitted., interrupting whatever words might have been on the verge of being spoken by Edward.
"Then let's make the most of today," he replied, grabbing the remainder of Bella's hot dog and shoving it in his mouth.
"Hey!" Bella's arms flailed as she tried in vain to get her hot dog before it disappeared into Edward's mouth.
"Just trying to save you the indignity of eating dead animal." Edward looked towards the gates of the amusement park, glanced at the looming Ferris wheel and old wooden coaster.
"Is that where we're going?" Bella's stomach lurched.
"Do you get motion sickness, Bella?"
The squeals of the carnival-goers were deafening at the edge of the roller coaster Edward insisted on riding. The groan of the old brakes as they tried to halt the ride alarmed Bella, the rickety wooden track seeming as though it would break apart at any moment, tossing the poor riders into the sea.
"Are you afraid, Bella?" Edward asked, a crooked, close-mouthed smile making him more handsome, impish.
"Maybe. Just a bit."
"Not you, You! You who jump into an angry ocean after a drowning stranger, and then confront said stranger and berate him for not being dead like he was supposed to be."
Edward seemed so bright and happy, but as the day had worn on, she sensed something boiling underneath, threatening to break through the surface. She was certain something weighed heavily upon him, something he tried desperately to forget.
"I'm afraid of just about everything, " Bella said, waiting on Edward to admit a fear or two. He did not let her down. That something she had felt presented itself now, a dark cloud seeming to cross over his features.
"I'm afraid of not living."
"You're afraid of dying?"
"No, just not living. Before I die. You know?"
Bella thought she did. She feared, staying safe in her tiny town, staying with her adoptive father and pretending it was all there was, he was all there was, would make her regret. Regret what she could have done, what she could have lived.
She watched Edward's face change again as he made the decision to shrug off whatever dark thoughts he was having.
"What's your story? Are you here for vacation? Do you have a dad with a shotgun hanging around waiting to take off my head?"
Bella laughed, thinking of how she actually had two dads, sans shotgun. "Well, uh, I'm actually here on my own. I'm adopted, and, uh, I'm looking for my biological dad."
"Oh, wow, that's pretty heavy. So you're out here all on your own? You seem so..."
"Young? Innocent? Trusting?" he laughed, and Bella understood why, completely.
"I'm old enough. Besides, it's the '90s now, unless you hadn't noticed. And a free country. Women can go where they please, when they please."
"Oh, I know. I meant no offense. What do your adoptive parents think of all this?"
Bella stood quietly for a moment, shuffled forward a few paces as the line for the roller coaster moved forward. She didn't like talking about her parents.
"My mom died. Seven years ago. "
"God, I'm sorry," Edward responded, reaching out and putting the palm of his hand on Bella's shoulder. The heat from it made Bella comfortable enough to go on.
"I found her one morning. She stayed at home with me, you see. She was a house wife. Wonderful, loving, nurturing. I found her there, blue, cold. She'd had a heart condition no one knew about. I, um, didn't find out I had been adopted until she was dead." Bella could not stop talking now, and she realized she had not shared all these thoughts with anyone, at all. "I think my dad told me because he was hurt, out of spite. Turns out, he'd been perfectly happy with just the two of them. It was Mom who wanted more. So, um, I left when I was old enough. Things were pretty awkward after Mom died." Bella tried to rush her thoughts out, did not want to make a big deal out of her woeful story. Pity, she did not want.
"God, I'm s-" Edward started again.
"Don't, please," Bella interrupted. "I really don't want to be pitied."
"I'm not handing out pity, chica. Ever heard of sympathy?"
She nodded. "I'm just... I don't know."
Bella's eyes were glued to her feet. Edward lifted her chin with his index finger. "Hey," he whispered. "Really. It's okay. Everything's gonna be okay." Finally, she met his stare, the screams fading away, the scents of the park imprinting in her memory. Everything seemed green, like seaweed, like his eyes, and she believed him.
He pulled her close, wrapped his arms around her shoulders. She leaned against him, letting him hold her up. Edward smelled like ocean water, unwashed clothes, cheap after-shave and boy. Reminded of a long ago encounter, she breathed him in. She thought of the horses her next door neighbor used to keep, how she used to feed them apples. There was a time she had climbed the fence to reach her favorite one, a solid white stallion. Leaning too far, she had fallen in, and the neighbor's son, a boy several years older than she, had scooped her out, shushing her cries. His hands on her waist made her stomach flutter, some foreign and unknown yearning stirring within her, the smell of boy filling her head. The scent made her safe, as it did now.
Bella survived the coaster, the Ferris wheel, the tilt-o-whirl. Sufficiently dizzy, she sat with Edward on a bench, watching the people mingle and interact. Edward had filled the day with chatter, asking her a plethora of questions she would promptly turn on him once she had answered them. Favorite color, holiday, the names of childhood pets, names of parents, hobbies, her views on who was better: Batman or Spiderman. But now, the silence between the two felt loaded. What else was there to say? He would leave the next day no matter what words were spoken.
The first strings of music floated toward them on the breeze, and Edward's head perked up.
"Sounds like they're having a concert. Shall we?" He stood up and held an outstretched hand to Bella, helped her stand.
"We shall," Bella replied, adoring—despite his rumpled appearance—Edward's gentlemanly manner.
They followed the sound of music to a small pavilion the band huddled under. Edward searched his pocket for the last few coins he had, dumping them in a jar labeled "TIPS" stationed by the entrance. Quietly, the pair found a seat.
The song playing seemed perfect for an evening in late summer; it followed the cadence of the ocean and carried perfectly on the warm breeze blowing in from who-knew-where.
"They're good," Bella whispered, leaning close to Edward's ear, his unruly hair tickling her nose.
"It's a shame to waste it," he replied. "Dance with me?"
"No one else is dancing," Bella answered, giggling softly.
"Will you ever see these people again?"
Bella stood without answering, wanting to know the feeling of Edward's arms around her again, understanding this might be her last chance. The day was over; the sun going to bed, extinguishing its fire slowly as it sank into the waves.
He took her in his arms leisurely, as though he too recognized what was ending before it had yet begun.
Wrapping her arms tightly around his middle, she rested her head on his chest, pressed her body against his and swayed to the music, the breeze, knowing that the smell of summer would always be Edward, the surfer.
"I'm going to boot camp in three days." The words he spoke vibrated on Bella's face, and she wondered if she had heard him right.
"My old man's retired military. It's funny how our dads dictate our lives, huh?"
Bella looked up at him, his eyebrows drawn together creating a disconcerted expression she could in no way have envisioned on Edward's face. She reached up to run her fingers across his forehead, erase the lines there, erase the worry that went along with them. "It'll be okay," she replied, sounding much more convincing than she felt.
"I know it will. When I'm done, they'll pay for college, so I'll be extremely okay."
They went back to dancing after realizing they were standing there holding each other, not discussing the unease in the middle east or the talks of war or death or danger. They just danced.
"I would stay-"
"I know," Bella said.
"It's too late to get out of it, and my dad-"
They were quiet, the song changing to yet another ballad. In between, the band leader said a few words, thanking the crowd for listening, so, in those moments, Edward and Bella danced to the rhythm of words.
"You know, Bella," Edward started, "I think I love you."
They both laughed, because they knew it wasn't true. Not when they had only known each other mere hours. The laughter died quickly though, because they both knew it could be true.
"Let's go down to the beach," Edward suggested. "I want to say goodbye to Myrtle."
Bella laughed, memorized the spark in his eyes, the sun-reddened skin of his face.
Edward slung his arm around her shoulders as they walked until the lights of the rides and boardwalk were far in the distance. They took off their shoes and splashed in the surf, the moon that had risen making everything silver, kindling the wonderment in Bella.
Finally they stood facing each other, the coarse sand covering their exposed arms and legs, toes searching out the tide as it teased their overheated skin. Again, they found themselves close together, but this time swaying to the ebb and flow of the ocean, clinging onto each other as though they could stop their time from ending with the fierceness of their embrace.
Edward took Bella's face in his hands, the sand covering them keeping her from feeling his fingers. She would always wonder if they were soft or calloused against the sensitive skin of her face. He leaned in and kissed her, chapped lips and warm breath, and she was convinced she would never experience anything like it ever again. Returning the kiss with vigor, Bella felt a yearning like she had never known curl in her stomach.
Bella had read books, seen movies, heard people talk about lust, but, being unexposed, she was unprepared for the need that overwhelmed her. She wanted and that was all she knew. Edward kissed her, opened her mouth with his, touched his tongue to hers and she wanted. His hands went into her hair, his mouth moved to her neck, his teeth nibbled her ear and she wanted. She ached in places she was ashamed to admit.
Fisting her hands in his shirt, she clutched it so tightly she thought it would tear. Edward knew she wanted him to take it off, so he did.
She was embarrassed, but not so much that she would not ask for what she wanted. "Please," she started. "Please, Edward."
Without asking what the please was about, Edward knew. He lifted her shift off, unhooked her bra, slid off her shorts. Bella was too shy to take off his clothes, so he did that too.
And they were naked and hot and cold and wanting. Edward touched Bella where she needed it, asked permission to put his mouth on her breasts, between her legs. She gave it every time. Bella ran her hand along Edward's length, knowing they would fit together and the empty feeling inside would be blurred out by the movement of his hips.
When Edward leaned, poised at Bella's entrance, he asked permission a final time before entering her swiftly, his need matching hers. The sand was everywhere, and, oh how it hurt as Edward thrust in and out, but it was nothing like the ache that Bella was ridding herself of.
As he moved, something changed and the ache transformed and grew. She felt close, so close, to falling or flying away. The feeling budded, grew and matured within moments and she wrapped her legs tightly around Edward's hips, her thighs burning and eyes watering.
Finally, she let go and fell apart, shaking as the intensity poured over her, the tide still rising and lowering over her feet, the sound of the waves multiplied ten-fold. The last waves died down within her as Edward found what he had been chasing, buried his face in her hair and cried out his release.
She and Edward fit. Bella's euphoria ebbed away when she realized she felt like she belonged for the first time in years. How unfair that she should belong at the completely wrong time.
They swam naked in the ocean. They dressed but stayed on the sand, Edward holding Bella, her head under his chin as he breathed in the scent of her hair.
As the sun peeked over the edge of the ocean, the end of the world, Edward said, "Come back here in five years if you're still single. Right here." The both chuckled quietly, but both knew Edward was serious.
"Okay," Bella readily agreed.
Bella sat on the front porch swing, day after day, listening to the radio. Amidst songs by Wilson Phillips, Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi and R.E.M., Bella's trepidation grew along with her middle. The country was at war, for what or why, she could not quite understand, but she listened regardless.
She thought of Edward in every movement—as she rubbed her growing belly, as she made Charlie breakfast, as she walked on the beach and watched countless sunrises and sunsets.
As it turned out, Charles Swan was not a doctor, or a butcher, a baker, a candlestick-maker, but a cop. A cop who had not wanted to give her up, but would have done anything to make her birth mother happy. She had left him anyway, which was what led him to South Carolina, a fruitless search for her. He never stopped apologizing to Bella, even months later when she told him she was pregnant.
"It's like two for one," he had said. "A second chance to do things right." And he had hugged her while relief and love made her cry.
So she decided to keep the child, but worried. She worried the baby would look in the mirror and wonder whose nose she had, where her green eyes came from.
When it came time to deliver, the war was already over, and Bella heard news about troops coming home on the TV as her father, the no-longer-stranger, held her hand, urged her to push. Bella wondered what kind of world she was bringing life into. She would make sure her daughter always hoped for the best, always knew her mother loved her and would never be left to wonder when she did not have to.
The years passed; Bella took night classes and worked part-time during the day. Charlie was there, day in and out, encouraging and loving, being a doting grandfather. Her daughter grew and grew, the days counted by the new things she learned, a word, a color, writing her name. Bella felt almost complete.
When August of 1995 began, Bella had convinced herself it would be ridiculous to show up on the beach in thirteen days. It was only a silly promise made by some guy who was more boy than man, motivated by post-coital feelings. Eventually, she convinced herself it was love for her daughter that motivated her to show up at daybreak, exactly five years to the day, almost the minute, of when she had first laid eyes on the surfer, Edward.
Bella brought her little girl with her, watched her closely as she splashed in the tide as it drifted in and out. She smiled as the child squealed, the water cold to her four-year-old skin.
The sun had only been up an hour when she spied a lone figure approaching her from a distance. It was not Edward, couldn't be. Would he even recognize her if it was? Would she recognize him?
As the figure came close enough to distinguish, Bella held her breath. This man had hair close-cropped and was clean-shaven. He walked with purpose, not the jaunting swagger she remembered Edward having. The lines of his face were sharp angles, his body filled out and matured, his expression grim. He was grown up now, but it was still him.
Bella stood and ran to him, throwing herself in his arms. She couldn't speak, could not move; the only thing she could do was let him hold her there, praying that the scent of summer would never be lost to her again.
The little girl ran to Bella and clung to her leg. "Mommy, mommy!" she cried, worrying over this strange man who embraced her mother. Edward stared at the little girl, his face displaying a hundred different emotions as he scrutinized her.
"Four," Bella whispered.
Edward's face went from confusion, to despair, to anger, to hope and all around and back again before an astonished smile appeared on his face. "What's her name?" Edward asked.
"Elizabeth. We call her Lizzie."
"That's my mom's name. We?"
"I know," Bella replied. "By 'we' I mean my Charlie and myself."
"So, it was okay, just liked I said." He stopped for a moment, looked at Lizzie again. "I, uh, don't know what to say. I guess we need to learn each other's last names."
Bella laughed and so did Lizzie, even though she could not possibly know why they were laughing. Edward hugged them both and without thinking, kissed Bella's lips, the memories so tangible it felt like only moments had passed as opposed to years.
"There you are, You. You're not You without a smile," Edward said against Bella's mouth, moving to kiss her nose. Bella didn't know how or when or why, but she knew everything would be okay again.
She knew this was the part where things got extremely okay.
"Wow. God. This is, just, a lot. This is a lot." Edward took a deep breath and laughed, overwhelmed. "This is... Bella, I'm s-"
"Don't apologize. You couldn't have known. You showed up now, though. That's what matters. We can't change what's happened. You're here now."
He got down on one knee, on eye level with Lizzie. He put his hands on her shoulders. "Your eyes are seaweed green."
Lizzie laughed, looking quite pleased with the compliment.