This was my contribution to the Fandom Fights Tsunami Fundraiser. Lots of love and thanks go to Beans827 for beta'ing, mpg for pre-reading and vbfb1 for the lovely banner.
The usual: Stephenie Meyer owns the characters and I just gave them an alternative lifestyle.
"Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning." Anon
Eleazar shook his head disgustedly as he contemplated his two protégés. How the hell did two intelligent, attractive human beings get it so wrong? One had been in a disastrous first marriage, and, since its tumultuous ending, had been single for more than four years, too afraid to dip his toes into the water again. The other was as yet untouched by love, the lukewarm relationships she'd had before were filler, nothing more. Eleazar was running out of patience.
When he was alive, he'd given them ample opportunities to meet, but his carefully thought out plans had always come to naught. For some reason or other, something had always come up and one would not be available when the other one was. He knew that they would be perfect together and was frustrated that he'd never been able to even get them in the same room while he was living.
Unfortunately, Eleazar didn't have long to wait to see if his careful planning would start to pay dividends. He was only in this half-life for a few months and then he would be off permanently to the other side, where he would be unable to influence anything happening in the living world below. His two protégés were not related to him by blood, but both of them, in their own ways, had taken special care of him when he was alive and so he wanted to repay them in some way. He hadn't left them anything monetary in his will, which had been his first fleeting thought, but neither had ever shown that money was important to them, in more than the simplest requirements.
Eleazar had paid attention to their words, as well as things unspoken, and had determined that they were both lonely and that their lives were lacking in only one way – they both wanted someone of their very own on whom to lavish their love, they had plenty for the right person. Both had been jaded by their previous relationships and both were determined not to settle for anything less than unconditional love and acceptance. Added to the fact that he felt responsible for both of their previous relationship failures, for introducing Edward to Tanya, and for passing on his workaholic tendencies to Bella, he was certain that this was his final legacy – love.
Briefly Eleazar checked in with his family, and if he'd been anyone other than a successful businessman in real life with an image to maintain, he would have clapped his hands in glee. Everything was going according to plan. Eleazar knew exactly what would happen when he left his will just a little bit vague and then appointed his daughter, Tanya, joint executor with his second wife, Carmen. Not enough confusion to cause his family pain, but enough to challenge his two protégés to fulfill his final wishes, and at the same time bring them together. That was the plan anyway, and judging by Carmen's and Tanya's churning thoughts, one or both of his protégés was about to get a grilling.
Eleazar projected himself down to the office of his accountant, Bella Swan, who was currently shaking her head in disbelief on the third reading of his will. She wondered why her former client, supposedly savvy in all things business, had left the final disposition of his life in a bit of a mess. It was solvable, but it would involve eliciting a decision from both of the executors who barely tolerated each other when Eleazar was alive and now refused to even speak to each other. El had left his little mess right smack bang in her lap to resolve of course.
While he was there observing, a call came in, and with no guilt whatsoever, Eleazar listened to Bella patiently explain to his money-grubbing daughter over and over again the meaning of the will in layman's terms. Tanya, as expected, only cared about how much time it would take to be an executor and how much money her step-mother would be getting. She spoke to the lovely Bella as if she were a lowly servant, no more important than a piece of lint on her wool suit, which could simply be done away with by a flick of her fingernail. He really had spoiled that girl far too much; she'd never had to work a day in her life and looked down on those that did.
Although, by the tone of the conversation his estranged daughter may very well bring about the fated meeting that he had failed to do while still alive. As Eleazar sat on the top of Bella's filing cabinet listening to her speak so politely to his inexplicably rude, arrogant daughter over the phone, he could see her making notes on the legal pad in front of her. Call El's lawyer to find out if there are some instructions or letters provided by El to explain this mess of a will.
Bella wasn't thinking very complimentary thoughts of Eleazar's lawyer at this present time. In her opinion, the lawyer should have picked up on the holes El had left in his will, and plugged them, before El had signed it and had plunged her into this nightmare. No sooner than Bella had hung up from Tanya, her secretary, Jessica, had put through her next call which just happened to be Carmen, the other executor and Eleazar's widow. Bella didn't say a word, but the stiffening of her shoulders and the deep breath before she took the call, indicated her tension about talking to El's wife.
Eleazar resisted the urge to pump his hand with glee. He truly loved Carmen, his second wife; she was a little spitfire and would do her best for his will to be followed to the letter. She and Tanya had never really gotten along, which was to be expected due to the circumstances. His first wife, Irina had passed when Tanya was a on the brink ofbeing a teenager and even thoughhe had waited some years to start dating, his daughter had always hated anyone he brought home on sight, including and especially Carmen, once they announced their engagement.
As expected, Carmen grilled Bella about the will and Eleazar's chest puffed up with pride when Bella was able to distill the gist of the problems with his will into key points to be resolved. He'd taught her well. Eleazar had seen her potential straight out of college and had nurtured her talent within his own firm before encouraging her to spread her wings and open up her own accounting practice five years ago. When he had retired, he had taken his work to her, preferring to spend his days golfing and socializing with his bridge buddies, knowing his finances were in good hands.
That's not to say that he didn't challenge her now and again to keep his brain active. With no warning, he would call her up and spout off a bunch of figures and put her on the spot to answer a difficult question. And damn it, she always came back with the correct answer off the top of her head, often when he had spent time researching it himself. She kept him on his toes and his brain active and he felt as protective of her as if she was his own daughter. Probably more so since Tanya had taken after her mother and had a shrewd, hard as nails character who preferred to do as little as possible for the best possible gain.
Which is why it didn't surprise him when Tanya married Edward, the hardworking son of one of his business associates, Carlisle Cullen, shortly after he'd introduced them. He was very handsome and his family came from old money. However, that never deterred him from working his butt off to prove himself capable of providing for himself and a family. Sadly, it also didn't surprise him when they divorced after less than six months due to her infidelity. She'd landed on her feet though and was currently living it up on the yacht of some poor rich schmuck, planning wedding number three.
Eleazar really liked Edward Cullen, and, like Bella, he had taken him under his wing, regardless of the fact that he was his ex son-in-law. Carlisle had wanted Edward to follow in his footsteps and take over the family business but Edward had always been interested in the law. Carlisle reluctantly groomed his slightly younger son, Emmett, to take over the Chairmanship when he retired and funded Edward's law degree.
When Edward opened his own practice, Eleazar was one of his first clients, after his own father of course, and he refused to move his business elsewhere once Tanya and Edward divorced, despite Tanya's shrewish demands. He had always been quite impressed with Edward's tenacity to make things work, however, he was not surprised that, after just a few shorts weeks into the marriage, Edward realized Tanya's true nature. He had started to have doubts as to whether Tanya had ever been pregnant.
Edward, in fact, argued with him most voraciously about the wording of his will, claiming he had left the field wide open for problems with interpretation. Edward had also seriously discouraged him from appointing both his daughter and his current wife as joint executors. He rightly guessed that it would mean the two of them would constantly be fighting about the will, never agreeing on anything and making his and whoever had to complete the finance end of the deceased's estate, tear their hair out in frustration.
More times than he could remember, Eleazar had tried to get Bella and Edward in the same room together. He had a feeling when he had met Bella, that her quiet and caring nature, when added to her 'quick as a whip' brain, were exactly what Edward needed in his life after the huge mistake he had made with Tanya.
Eleazar felt a little pang that he was being disloyal to his own flesh and blood, but honestly that didn't last too long. Tanya never called him, and rarely came to visit him, unless he had something she wanted or needed to ask for more money to tide her over until she could sink her claws into her next moneybags. When El had become ill a year ago, she'd hardly contacted him at all, and, in fact, in one memorable phone call, she had asked to have his gold bullion stored in his safety deposit box before his death. Gold digger much?
Bella, on the other hand, had called him most weeks just to chat, and, in that last year, had come to his home to help him with his paperwork when his own hands had become too feeble to write legibly. Equally, Edward had come and mowed his lawn on the weekends and had caught some games with him on the occasional evening. Carmen didn't drive and Edward had collected him whenever he wasable, and drove him to his doctor's appointments. They were both good kids. He chuckled thinking neither of them would appreciate them being referred to that way.
While he was ruminating, Bella had finished the phone call with Carmen, and had progressed onto a meeting with another client who was going through a tax audit. Boring! Eleazar had enough of those types of meetings with his own clients over the years he had no interest hearing more now. He wondered if either his wife or daughter had contacted Edward yet, and with the merest thought, projected himself straight to Edward's office and took a seat in a comfortable chair in the corner.
Without even hearing any of the conversation, Eleazar knew that Edward was talking to Tanya on the phone at the present time. His bronze hair was a mess, after being tugged at in consternation, and he was coming down with a major headache judging by the thumb and forefinger currently pressing against his sinuses. Edward's temper was hanging by the barest of threads as Tanya's increasingly strident demands kept coming.
Eleazar could hear her screeching voice through the phone, and he was all the way across the room, as she railed at Edward for delaying the finalization of his estate just to spite her. She then demanded that Edward go through the trust accounts with a fine tooth comb. Tanya was sure Carmen was spending money she shouldn't, and she was determined not to miss out on a single cent of everything she thought she was entitled to. Eleazar's heart broke a little bit more listening to her cold-hearted tantrum, but the defining moment was when she started whining about how much money was spent on the funeral.
"He's dead, Edward! It was not like he'd have cared if it was a top of the line redwood box or a simple pine one. They burn just as quickly as each other and part of my inheritance went up in smoke last week. And you can forget handing any money over to Carmen, that money- hungry, old, botoxed hag."
Eleazar thought he had heard everything, but Tanya's words cut through his chest like a serrated knife, jagged and tearing. To hear his only daughter, flesh of his flesh, comment so callously about the end of his life was more than he could bear. Much as he wanted to witness his plan in action, he couldn't stay and listen to one more word, so he vanished to a safe haven to recover. If one could recover from the pain he was suffering, if one could mend the hole where his heart had once been, torn out by his daughter and squeezed until every drop of blood was pooled on the floor.
He'd check back on his two protégé's in a day or so, more determined than ever to succeed in his plan.
Even after being married to Tanya for six months, and it wasn't a good marriage by any means, Edward was still startled by the callousness of her words about her father. Eleazar had been a compassionate man, whose first and last thoughts each day had always been about her well-being and happiness. To hear the spiteful, vicious diatribe spew from her lips had further cemented his opinion of her and it was not good.
Even worse, he knew his experiences with her had put him off any serious relationships since then, despite being more than four years since she'd broken their wedding vows. She'd tried to justify her actions when he'd found out about her affair with the clichéd tennis coach. She'd started by flinging around false accusations about his motives for providing free legal advice at the women's shelter downtown. What she accused him of was just plain sick. As if he would prey on those women; women who had already been dealt a bad hand and were clawing their way back from the brink. Many had left violent marriages with small children and no money, others had mental illnesses and their families had dumped them and run.
For Tanya to infer he was getting his rocks off by offering free legal advice for blow jobs, and other intimate services, was just plain wrong, and had hurt him on so many levels. More so than even the confirmation that Tanya had rarely, if ever, been faithful to him. Tanya knew very well that he offered his services for free at the shelter because of what happened with his mother and her first husband, who had beaten her to within an inch of her life. To imply any sleazy connotation to his actions should have been beneath even her. When she'd seen his thunderous face, she'd backtracked and instead tried to imply that he'd failed on his promise to keep her in the way that she was accustomed. In her mind, by taking on this philanthropic work, he was apparently missing out on the more lucrative commercial work of high profile businessmen she'd cultivated at the country club. Yeah, more like the local Mafioso!
With a huge sigh, he prepared to call Eleazar's former accountant, Isabella Swan, to discuss the financial aspects of winding up his complicated estate, made more so by Eleazar inexplicably appointing his current wife and the daughter of his first wife as joint executors. He'd counselled Eleazar against such an action, but with a mysterious grin, Eleazar had stood firm on his decision despite the issues pointed out to him by Edward. Edward had shrugged in defeat and organized the will to Eleazar's specifications, groaning inwardly all the while about the necessary time he'd have to spend in Tanya's presence.
Edward wasn't looking forward to working with Isabella Swan either. Her name alone sounded rather pretentious, and he'd worked damn hard over the years to avoid meeting her, especially since Eleazar kept pushing the issue. Edward knew exactly what he'd hoped to achieve by getting them in the same room, but he hardly trusted Eleazar's judgement regarding suitable women after his less than stellar experiences with Tanya.
He dialed the number noted on Eleazar's paperwork, and as he waited for the connection, he absentmindedly thought about the woman he'd seen a few times at the shelter. She was very pretty rather than stunning, but with a gentle manner that seemed to draw him in. She was, in fact, the complete opposite of his ice queen ex-wife. He'd first seen her sitting in the common room, surrounded by a multitude of little children staring raptly at her, as she painstakingly showed them how to create art with items from the garden like leaves and flowers, and even a few small twigs. He'd been drawn to peek into the room by the sound of mirth issuing forth and he was curious as to who the tinkling sound belonged to.
He didn't think she was one of the women who lived at the shelter; her face was too animated and lively to have lived through what so many of these women had. Many were aged beyond their years with the struggle to survive, and the skittishness in their eyes was absent from hers. She smiled and laughed and was so carefree. He imagined her life was very far removed from the women who lived there. He found he couldn't look away and was as lost in her as the little children scattered around her.
"Bella…Bella! Can you come and help with my picture, please?" A young voice called out amongst the general rowdiness.
Bella. He savored the sound of her name on his tongue. She was as pretty as her name.
When he was at the shelter last week, he'd finally seen her again, having unsuccessfully searched for her the other three times he'd popped in to help a new resident. She'd been sitting with a group of women this time, and showing them how to use programs on the computer. He'd been running late for his own appointments though, and sadly had no time to tarry and watch her smiling countenance interact with those lost souls. He was due to go to the shelter again tomorrow afternoon and he hoped he would see her again. For the first time in a long time, he saw someone who he'd actually like to meet, who just might have the same values as he.
Edward's ruminations about the beauteous Bella were cut short by his call being answered by the receptionist for Isabella Swan. When he'd asked to speak with Ms Swan, and detailed the reason for his call, he'd been informed that Ms Swan had taken the afternoon off to attend to personal matters. His suppositions about Ms Isabella Swan were confirmed. Like Tanya, she seemed to be playing at a career, and was probably out pampering herself with a spa afternoon after a champagne lunch. He left his details with the friendly Jessica, and promptly put Ms Swan out of his mind for the moment, preferring instead to get started on the plans for the reading of the will early the next week.
As Edward left the office for the day, some three tiring hours later, he made sure that he blocked the afternoon out for the next day. He smiled with the thought that he might even get to talk to the lovely Bella this time.
Bella loved the time she spent here at the Shelter each week; it was in fact the highlight of her life these days. She'd become involved just recently, when she'd become aware of the plight of one of the wives of a former client of hers. Alice Anderson, soon to be the ex-wife of James Anderson, had called her out of the blue two months ago to ask if Bella could send her tax refund directly to her. She was adamant that it was not to be sent to the family home; Alice informed her that she had left her husband, they were no longer together.
At the time, Bella had just finished the Anderson's taxation work, and had been about to call James herself to come in and sign the paperwork, when she'd received the call from Alice. She'd only met Alice a handful of times over the two years the Andersons had been clients, but her perception was that Alice was a quiet, little mouse and kowtowed to her husband on everything. Alice had still needed to sign the taxation papers before they could be filed, and eventually agreed for Bella to bring the papers to her as she was unable to leave the house where she currently resided. Before Alice would provide her with the address though, she told Bella that it was of the utmost importance that James not be informed of her whereabouts, not under any circumstances. It seemed an odd comment, however Bella had readily agreed. Things had become clearer when she wrote down the address.
Her first visit to the Safe Haven Women's Shelter was an eye-opener. Bella had grown up in a small town, the only child of two loving parents. Both her high school boyfriend, Mike Newton, and her college sweetheart, Riley Biers, had always been perfect gentlemen. She'd never been exposed to the kind of violence that resulted in the shattered women she saw before her. When she'd been taken to Alice's room, Bella had been shocked at the sight of the usually perfectly groomed to within an inch of her life, Alice Anderson, clad in a shapeless tracksuit, staring out of the window with her shoulders slumped in defeat.
When Alice turned towards the door after Bella had cleared her throat, Bella remembered feeling the bile rise within her at the ravages James had inflicted. One of Alice's eyes was swollen completely closed, and the entire side of her face was one big purpling yellow bruise. Her lips were split and puffy, and her nose had been broken. The arm that had been facing away was then visible and covered from fingertips to shoulder in a plaster cast as was her left leg from knee to toe. Alice literally looked like death warmed over.
It was while Bella was there that a number of the women residing at the shelter had approached her and bombarded her with questions about taxation and setting up bank accounts and so forth. She realized that, in most of the cases, the women had been purposely kept in the dark about finances and many had not even had access to the marital bank account; or allowed anything like computers which gave them free access to the outside world. Before she left the building that day, Bella had spoken to the administrator of the Shelter and had been given carte blanche to assist the women integrate fully into the real world armed with at least the basic knowledge of budgets, banking and a few things about operating a computer.
The first time Bella visited the Shelter in her official capacity, she brought with her two laptop computers and donated them to the shelter. It was while she was getting them set up that a few of the children got up the nerve to slowly approach her and watch what she was doing. She showed them some games on the computers to play and even a drawing program. Bella had never really been around small children much, being an only child of only children, she had never had brothers, sisters, or even small cousins to dote on. Her only friends were all employed in the corporate world and parenthood had not yet tempted anyone she knew.
The timid, wide-eyed children wormed their way into Bella's curiously big heart, unknowingly filling a void she hadn't realized existed.. For every visit she made to the shelter to teach their mothers, Bella always brought something for the children, be it sweet treats, some activities to do or even her precious children's books that she had long grown out of. Most often she would come on weekends but sometimes, like today, she'd not had any appointments and had cleared her schedule to spend the whole afternoon there.
Eleazar's sudden passing ten days ago had left a huge void in Bella's life, and being around the children comforted her in his absence. She missed him more than she ever thought possible. He was more than a client and her former boss, he'd become her mentor and close friend. She had admired him immensely and knew that if she'd had the chance to tell him before he'd passed about what she was doing at the shelter, he would have been pleased. Eleazar had always had a nurturing side and Bella knew he had been very active on the boards of a number of charities over the years.
To be completely truthful though, something that happened last week provided great incentive to continue to work with the women in the Shelter. As Bella had been finishing up for the afternoon, she had taken a few of the younger children on a nature walk out in the garden to give their mothers a few minutes of peace. As the two littlest blonde-haired toddlers clung to her fingers as she had walked, a flash of colour from one of the rooms had caught her eye. Sunlight had come through the clouds at that precise moment, and whatever was in the room was obscured from view by the bright reflection glancing off the glass of the windows.
The warmth of the day and the paleness of the skin of the toddlers caused Bella to decide on lying in the grass under a tree. As she had lain there on her side, plucking at blades of grass and the tiny clover flowers, telling a simple tale to keep the kiddies amused, she'd found her gaze continually drawn to the window from before. Several minutes had passed, and when the sun was briefly obscured by a cloud, Bella had been able to see that the flash of colour was, in fact, the head of hair on an absolutely gorgeous man sitting in a chair partially turned towards the window, as he talked seriously to one of the newest residents of the home.
Bella had found it difficult to look away, and in fact had not realized she'd stopped mid-sentence in her story to simply gawk at the man who took her breath away. He was so very attractive and his face was so open and earnest, she'd thought distractedly. Her attention was drawn back to the children when Alex tugged on her shirt and said, "Story, Bella. What happened to the daughter of the policeman when she went to the big city?"
Bella satisfied the children's yearning to know about little Arabella and her trip to the big city, all the while keeping an eagle eye on the man whose face she was studying intently. Thank goodness with the sun shining in his eyes, he had no idea she was ogling him so blatantly, or she would definitely have been embarrassed. She was hoping to get a closer look when he left Lauren's room on his way out, but one of the children had needed to visit the bathroom and he'd been gone by the time she'd walked into the common room to sign out. She'd asked one of the older children if they knew who the man was in Lauren's room. Taylor had just giggled and said the mom's just called him The Pretty and he helped them with court stuff.
Bella's eyes grew round. He must be the lawyer that Mrs Cope, the shelter "mom", had mentioned the previous week, who volunteered his time to help the new residents with domestic violence orders as well as helped the women fill out divorce applications and custody matters. Gorgeous and brainy! A dangerous combination for one's peace of mind. Bella tried for nonchalance when she asked the children if they knew when he might be back. Unfortunately they didn't know, and she wasn't willing to betray her interest in him to Mrs Cope. Bella just had to hope that their visits would coincide again, if nothing else, so that she could appreciate some eye candy.
Bella worked with good looking men every day, some clients, some other accountants and even a few lawyers, but she'd never come across someone who interested her as much as The Pretty, without even exchanging a word. It was a rare thing to see someone who gave of their time freely, and Bella could tell he was a compassionate man by the interest he had shown in Lauren, and by helping people he'd never met in his life, and for no monetary gain. Bella thought he could be a man worth knowing.
The next morning as Bella walked into her office right on the dot of eight am, Jessica was springing up, fresh coffee in hand and all the messages and urgent matters that needed to be looked at before her day fully started. As she flicked through them, she noticed a telephone message from one Edward Cullen. Ah yes. She'd been expecting his call for the last day or so, but dreading it all the same. She was anxious to do a good job on Eleazar's estate work but at the same time she really was not looking forward to working with this Edward Cullen.
Eleazar had been singing his praises for years and was always trying to get them in the same room. Bella swore Eleazor expected them to take one look at each other and fall madly in love on sight, just because he thought they would be good together. Bella had never had the heart to point out the failed marriage of his own daughter to this guy, was evidence of the fact that he had no idea what he was talking about.
They had barely lasted six months, and from what little Bella had seen of Eleazar's daughter, she knew Tanya was hardly likely to go for the kind, generous-hearted type from the shelter. No, her tastes ran to the more exotic European man, and apparently each and every one of her tennis coaches over the years. She did not hold out much hope of a speedy resolution of this matter. After seeing the mess of a will, and her expectations of the type of man that Tanya Denali would be interested in, she knew she would have her work cut out for her.
Bella had clients in first thing and it wasn't until lunchtime that she was free to ring Edward Cullen and arrange a time to meet. When she finally got through to his firm, his receptionist, Gianna, informed her he was out of the office for the rest of the afternoon attending to some personal matters. Bella immediately assumed the worst, given she'd heard the guy had a ton of old family money behind him, and supposed he was probably out on the golf course or something equally as clichéd. Before hanging up the phone, she made a time the next day for a meeting between them to get matters rolling.
Checking her watch to ensure she was running on time, Bella pushed on the glass door and made her way into the reception foyer of Edward Cullen's office in a building not unlike hers and only a few blocks away. The room was not ostentatious in the slightest, which she wasn't expecting; it was quietly elegant with comfortable chocolate brown leather couches flanked by two side tables graced with tasteful flower arrangements.
As she was a few minutes early, Gianna asked Bella to take a seat and then darted out to make a coffee for her while she was waiting. Bella hated to say it after her previous assumptions, but she was quietly impressed. Gianna returned shortly after with a perfectly made cappuccino, dusted chocolate heart and all. As Bella held the steaming hot coffee mug, she wandered around the room and checked out the various pieces of art on the walls. They were low key but each beautiful in a quiet unassuming way – as if they were designed to soothe you. She looked closer and noticed the signature in the lower right hand corner of the closest painting. Jasper Cullen. A relative to be sure. A very talented relative.
While Bella had been admiring his brother's artwork, Edward had been admiring Isabella. Gianna had notified him of Isabella's attendance and he had finished up his call to the IRS as quickly as possible. Although he was not looking forward to the meeting; he was very professional and outwardly he was the picture of calm efficiency. As he'd opened his office door, he'd immediately spied Isabella on the opposite side of the room, facing away from him. The rear view was lovely indeed. While she was professionally dressed, there was a softness about the teaming of a soft flowing knee-length skirt with a fitted short jacket that whispered elegant, and not as in your face as a power-suit.
Edward was a bit taken aback. So far she'd not fit into the little box that he'd placed her in and labelled dilettante. As he walked closer, he was surprised to discover that the perfume she wore was not overpowering, instead it was light and delicate and lovely. He thought it might be something that Bella might wear, but as yet he'd not been close enough to her at the shelter to find out. He hoped to change that this afternoon.
Ms Swan was still peering at his favorite of Jasper's paintings, and had not yet realized he had walked into the room. As Edward was about to clear his throat and tap her on her shoulder, she swung around so quickly, her hair flying, that she ended up in Edward's arms and emptied her coffee cup down his brand new shirt. As they sprung away from each other, Ms Swan turned her heel, and Edward caught her as she started to fall towards the floor.
Edward was not sure why but the feel of Isabella Swan in his arms felt right. Her chignon had fallen askew as she had fallen and as her delicate hands came up and swept it out of her eyes, Edward almost dropped the poor girl on the floor in shock.
Staring back at him, cradled in his arms, was Bella, from the shelter, with a more than bemused smile on her face.
"You've stolen my heart," she said to him with a little giggle.
Edward's own heart skipped a beat or two at her words and when he had yet to say anything but stare at her stupidly, she pointed to his shirt, whereupon he noticed a wonky chocolate speckled heart just over his own erratically beating organ.
Ridiculously he felt cheated when he realised she was talking about her cappuccino chocolate heart which was sliding slowly down his coffee-drenched shirt.
"I rather think that it's you who have stolen mine," Edward countered with a smile, before sending a silent thank you up into the heavens to Eleazar.