Remember that special feeling you get whenever you feel like you're on cloud nine? Like nothing can ever go hellishly wrong? I'd love to lie and act all stoic, but the truth is that I've never felt so freaking happy my entire life. And I've been living such a bullshitty life so far.
Sitting down on the bed, staring around at the apartment that I was about to give up, I couldn't help but remember Carlisle and Esme's pleas - Mom and Dad's pleas.
"Oh, Edward . . ." Esme, er, Mom - I was still getting used to it - gasped in horror. "You've been living for a couple of weeks in this?" Her eyes were wide with shock as she turned around my apartment. We'd just gotten back from the courts, Bella and the rest of my family giving us a little alone time. Carlisle looked at me, his mouth set in a grim line.
"Don't tease my house, Mom. It has personality," I shrugged, then grinned at the both of them. "House? You call this a house?" Carlisle, uh, Dad (screw this shit, man) scoffed, picking up a stray piece of sock. It was Em's, so don't look at me like that.
I nodded. "Not really. A house has to have . . . love underneath the roof. And this ain't no house because, well, there really isn't much love here." What was with me that I had to be so goddamned emotional today? Wimp! The voice teased, in a good way for once, and I internally narrowed my eyes at it. That's right, twerp. One more little taunt and I'm kicking you out of my head, I warned it.
"Edward . . . I know that it seems entirely too quick, but please son, come back to our home. Come back to us." Esme - shit - Mom looked at me with her persuading eyes, and I couldn't help but hang my head. Shit, why is it that I can't handle pouty lips and doe-like eyes? Bella, Alice, Rose, Charlotte . . . every single woman I knew in my life managed to kill me with that look. Damn it, I gotta find Em and ask him to teach - no, coach - me on how not to get my ass whipped.
Her offer was seriously tempting, though. And as much as I'd love to say yes, I can't. "Es-" I took a deep breath, "Mom, I'm sorry, but I can't. At least, not yet. Who knows you guys might . . . might rethink about getting me disowned." They looked like they were about to interrupt me, but I held up one cautious finger. "No, wait, lemme get this out first. But I think that we should take things slowly; build up that kind of relationship we used to have before all of it went down the gutter. We need to . . . to find out what we want from each other. At least, that's what I think."
Score one for Masen-er . . . Cullen!
"Son, you don't have to do this . . . but if that's what you want, then I guess . . ." Carlisle (I think I'm better off sticking to first name basis for now) looked at Esme for help, his hands twiddling with each other. Wow. If someone told me that I had the ability to make Carlisle Cullen all nervous three months ago, I would have died laughing at their sorry faces.
Except now it was different. He really was concerned.
"Just give us a little time," I nodded. "But you need to let me help you clean this horrible, horrible mess at least," Esme murmured, moving around and picking up thrash. Bags of half-emptied chips, Jasper's boxers, Alice and Rosalie's magazines, did I fail to mention Emmett's disgusting old rubber ducky? For crying out loud, they were here only yesterday! Just one night, and look at all that stupid, freaking mess.
"That's not mine," I helped Esme out. "The rest of the family decided to wreck havoc on my place last night."
"Snitch!" A voice yelled from the doorway, and I turned to look at Emmett's accusing glare. "I trusted you!"
I laughed when Emmett grinned his crazy grin. He rushed up to Esme before kissing her cheek. "Hi, Ma," he said sheepishly, shuffling his foot on the ground. I heard snickering, and looked up to see the others leaning against my doorway. Bella was tucked safely between Rosalie and Alice, and when she noticed I'd been staring at her, she gave me a small smile.
Of course, being the wussy that I am, I had to return the smile. "Emmett Cullen, how dare you mess up your brother's living quarters?" Esme gave him the UMG - Universal Mom Glare. Carlisle inched closer towards her as Em muttered, "But Ma-"
"Don't you 'but, ma' me, young man!" she shouted. Ah, crap. He's in pure shit now. I decided to help my brother out a little, seeing as he did save my ass, and he's my brother. "Esme, it's fine. Most of the stuff are mine, anyway. He didn't even make that much of a mess; Jasper completely beat him to it."
From across the room, I heard Jazz's annoyed groan.
"Whatever the case, you should fix this up." Esme eyed the room, and suddenly she had this maniacal shine to her eyes. She rubbed her hands together gleefully before snapping at us to get the hell out. We did, and before I could shut the door, I swear to every living deity up there in the high heavens that I heard her cry, "You're going down, bacteria! You'll feel the wrath of Esme Cullen!"
Yep. I've got a batshit crazy adoptive mother. But I don't think I'd want anything more than that. She's awesome the way she is. Carlisle looked up at all of us, before looking down again. Al moved closer to where I stood, then she went ahead to him. "You're crazy, Dad. But I love you. Thanks for giving Edward a second chance."
Ah, shit. Now I feel like crap watching my sister thank him for me. Carlisle smiled, cupping Alice's chin before hugging her to him. "Everyone deserves second chances. I'm just stupid enough to realize this now."
"Coolest. Dad. Ever." Em gasped, before running over to him and picking both of them up.
That was when I decided to just screw everything to heck and move back in with the Cullens. They're my family, even considering what happened. And I know that it's only a matter of time before I'd come to this decision.
My name is Edward Anthony Masen Cullen. And today, I've finally found my closure.
"Edward, you done?" Jazz yelled from the doorway. I picked up all the boxes and stood up, stretching a little. A quiet voice beside me asked, "Sad?"
I turned to smile down at the little thing that was my girlfriend. Bella grinned up at me, her brown orbs glinting through the light from the lone window. She was wearing my green hoodie, making me proud as hell. "Are you kidding me? Hell no." I kissed her on those luscious lips of hers, feeling the hint of the chocolate coated strawberries she'd just had. Don't blame her; Rosalie got hooked onto those, and never stopped forcing that little addictive stuff down our throats.
Thank god for Emmett and his work-outs. I'm lucky I haven't gained twenty pounds over the last few weeks.
After making the decision on moving back with the Cullens, I sort of held a trial period. I'd sleep over there for a couple of days, trying to bond with the rest of the family, then I'd come back here. It sucked, because I ended up wanting to spend more time with them rather than being holed up in this lonely, dark place that was filled with nothing but depressing thoughts.
'Sides, like that Streisand chick's song, I ain't gonna let anyone rain on my parade. Corny, probably, but blame Alice. She was watching Funny Girl on DVD and went crazy over it. Even Jasper got a little exasperated. But then again, who wouldn't when you've got your little pixie of a sister playing the movie on and on and on when all you want is some awesome, nasty, gory stuff to get your girlfriend to cringe and crawl into your lap?
What? Don't give me that look. I'm still an eighteen year old boy.
"Mmm, you really need to back off or Jasper will come after you for wasting his gas." Bella giggled, her hands under my shirt. I pressed my lips harder against hers, more insistent this time. "Who cares about Jasper?" I teased, chuckling when Bella shoved me off her. "That's not nice, Edward." she chastised, glaring at me.
I gave her my innocent look. "Sorry, baby," I grinned sheepishly.
"Edward, Bella, I swear to god if you guys don't stop making out right now, I'm getting Emmett in!" Jazz's voice screamed in through the doorway, and immediately we pulled away from each other. I picked off another box from Bella's arms and held it up against the rest of my stuff. Hustling down the stairs with Bella in front of me, to make sure she doesn't trip and fall or anything, we made our way over to Jasper's car, where he looked as pissed as possible.
"It's bad enough Em and Rose took Ally away from me already. Now I have to be stuck with you two love-birds." he groaned, and Bella giggled before patting his hand sweetly. "Just think of Alice in that pretty bridesmaid dress she showed you, Jasper. Her planning Em and Rose's wedding is going to be so worth it."
He sighed, "I guess so." Turning to me with his mouth pursed and his gray eyes eyeing me in concern, Jasper asked, "How're you holding up, man? Feeling okay to move back in with them?"
"Yeah, man. Not a doubt."
"Good. Alice will blow her load off seeing you back inside the house. Permanently." We both grinned at each other, and I got into the backseat with Bella. We spent the good thirty minutes ride back to Forks talking about school and summer, and how Emmett was gonna flip over me accidentally eating his sandwich. It earned us a good laugh from Bella, and anything is worth, well, anything as long as Bella laughed.
She's got me good alright. But I'm not complaining.
"Edward!" Mom (after trying this out a couple times, I finally manage to conjure the guts to actually call Esme this) cried, attacking me with a fierce, Mom-like hug. I laughed and stroked her hair before she pulled away. "Oh goodness, look at you! Two days of not seeing you, and already you're growing thinner! Come, I made some apple pie." she smiled brightly.
And, despite how much I knew the pie was going to suck, I smiled back and nodded enthusiastically. "Thanks! I'm bushed." I murmured, looking around for Carlisle. "So where's Dad?" I asked later when she was hauling my ass up to the kitchen, Bella and Jasper in tow. He was helping me with my boxes, taking the load from Bella, while I carried all the rest.
"He's at work. He'll come by soon enough, don't worry. A new patient arrived today from Minnesota. Poor girl had her spine twisted from a horrible accident." She looked down forlornly, her eyes worried. Ah, Mom. Always worrying even if she didn't have to.
"Yeah . . . her family must be sick with worry, too." I nodded, eyeing the weird looking pie lying on top of the counter. It looked . . . lumpy. And it had burn marks all over the place. Mom looked unfazed though. She seemed proud of her work. So I manned up, grabbed a plate for Jasper and Bella and some forks. Bella bit her lip, eyebrows scrunched together whilst looking at the pie, while Jasper's face didn't even have to be described to know what he was thinking.
Five spoonfuls of burnt pie later, Esme allowed us to go on up and get me settled back into my old room.
Looking back, I realized how much of this room I'd missed. I mean, c'mon. Sure there was that couch, that TV, the huge collection of DVDs and CDs I owned. But nothing beat actually seeing my room. Up until this moment, I'd taken everything I had for granted. And then I lost them, but seeing them return to me was like a huge sigh of relief.
"Dude, you're seriously gonna cry?" Jasper asked, smacking my back. I turned to glare at him before reaching for Bella. "Shut up. You don't know how much I actually missed this."
He nodded in understanding before picking up his suddenly ringing cellphone. He smiled at the screen, then looked up. "Well, that's Alice. I'm gonna leave you two alone for now. So suck up the free time because Emmett and Alice will probably invade your space later !" He gave that weird alien peace sign, then turned to leave me alone with my girlfriend.
Bella reached up to kiss my cheek. "I'm glad you're home."
I looked down to meet her lips, grinning, "I'm glad too."
Epilogue: One Year Later
I shook my shaking hands, wiping them on the hideous yellow robe I was donning. Don't even ask why I had to wear this little piece of shit. For all I know, Principal Greene wanted the color red, but because La Push High in the reservation was supposed to use that same color, he didn't want our school to be a copy cat and decided on yellow instead.
If you ask me, I think that's bullcrap. He just wanted to humiliate us on this crazily important day, is all. That conniving asshole.
The graduating class of Forks were all seated to the right, while parents and relatives sat on the left. The huge array of yellow robed people was just freaking me out. I didn't want to do this. Hell no. I looked through the crowd for a familiar face, but with the similar dress codes, I couldn't tell who was who.
And then I saw her.
She was laughing away with our family, her brown eyes rolling back as she joked about with Emmett. Alice was clinging on to her arm like how a little sister would, and she in turn was clinging onto Rosalie. They were all laughing on some joke Emmett had spewed. Even Jasper, Mr-Star-Wars-Lover, looked ready to pee in his pants.
Principal Greene came on stage, and suddenly, everyone kept quiet. I groaned quietly to myself and buried my head in my hands, removing my sight of her. When I felt someone staring at me, I looked up to meet her brown orbs, beaming with pride and joy . . . god, just when you think Bella already reached her limit when it came to beauty, she just had to look more goddamned gorgeous.
And the best part was that she was mine.
"-so before we commence the ceremony, our valedictorian has a few words to say." Principal Greene got off the stage, and I gulped in a deep breath, peeking through the curtains I was hiding in. Finally, after a couple of seconds, I gathered up the guts and headed up to the podium. There was lots of applause and catcalls, some sluts screaming they wanted my babies, and Emmett's, "Go, Edward!" ringing high and mighty in the air. I chuckled nervously and tapped the mike once, then I took a deep breath and focused solely on Bella's brown eyes, finding my strength.
"Hey guys," I began unceremoniously, "so, uh, in case you're wondering why I don't have papers in my hands, or why I sound so awkward and weird, the truth is . . . I really wanted my speech to come from the heart. I didn't want to come off as someone who'd written down these kind of stuff in some sort of pretense. In my opinion, I think that's just bullcrap. Excuse me, Principal Greene, for my vulgarity." I grinned at the crowd below me and they laughed.
Before I could lose the guts, I grabbed the mike off it's stand and headed towards them. "So here's the thing; graduation. I don't know about you guys, but I don't think I've ever hated waiting for a day so much like I do now. It's like that ban-aid you want to take out so bad but can't because your wound's going to be open for an infection to break through. I'll be the first to admit that I'm scared. I'm scared - and no, I'm no coward - but I'm scared that when we leave this place, this school we've been confined to for over four years, we won't leave it without making a difference.
"And for me, difference and change is what we should be really afraid of. Not of breaking your heart," I chuckled, staring at Amber, who gave me a small smile, "not of making the wrong mistakes; especially not that. We're all supposed to make mistakes. I've learned how to be a better person by making big and little mistakes. There's no going back on it. Sure, we grieve, but we're only human. We wouldn't be what we are if we don't feel even the simplest pity for ouselves.
"Lots of people told me they're really looking forward to graduating - that they can't wait to get out of this hellhole. I'm saying this now to everyone and anyone I've ever hurt or bullied in the past that I'm seriously sorry for it. I've been such a jerk for the biggest part of my life, and for awhile, I was afraid of becoming that person for the rest of my existence. But thanks to the support of many of you, I'm standing here today, smiling and making this crazy speech of being a valedictorian."
I paused, letting myself catch a breath. Bella's brown orbs were shining with so much pride and love. I waved at my family, at Mom and Dad, before I continued, "So, really, graduation sure is one heck of an emotional roller coaster for some of us. We keep thinking that we're gonna lose our friends, and maybe we will, but that's just life. We're gonna look back on this day thirty years from now, and we're gonna tell our kids that, hey, I did this or that when I was your age. We're gonna be seated at the exact place our parents are seating in right now, and we're gonna be smiling so hugely it might possibly break our faces.
"Because we're going to know that our kid's going to be fine; they've made it. And when we're parents, I think that's all that matters. I've never really known what it was to have a proper family; I was abused as a kid by my biological dad," I looked down, fidgeting with my robe, before looking up with renewed strength. "And because of that, I became some asshole. My family, right now, sitting before me, taught me everything I needed. For some of you, the 'rents don't even mean a thing, but they do. They brought you to this world, they gave you a home and, well, they gave you love.
"So before we leave this auditorium, can I make just one request?"
Everyone looked shocked, so to speak. Then they became a blabbering mess of assent. I grinned, "Can we all just stand up and thank our parents, teachers, our friends . . . our girlfriends," I looked at Bella, ignoring the catcalls, "our, uh, boyfriends . . . and most of all, can we look at those we haven't spoken to in all four years we've been here and say, 'good job?'"
"Hells to the yeah!" Emmett crowed, the whole batch screaming with cheer. I knew it wasn't even a half-assed attempt at saying an inspiring speech, but that was all I could do without feeling the need to smack myself on the head for sounding too preppy.
I placed the mike back on the stand and rushed over to Bella. I stared down at her, before leaning in close to whisper, "I love you." Her eyes glimmered before she throwed her arms around my neck, pulling me close to her. "I love you too, Edward. Go tell that to our family as well." I laughed and kissed her once more before congratulating a bunch of other people. I stayed true to my promise and thanked everyone I knew, saving my family for last.
All around me, there was chaos when we threw our hats into the air. I maneuvered around a couple of people before reaching my mom and dad. They smiled at me, my mother pulling at my arm and kissing my face, smothering me. I didn't mind though. Maybe I'm just turning into a psychotic mess of emotions, but it felt nice being treated like a little kid. "Esme, Esme, stop. You're spoiling the poor boy." Carlisle said gruffly.
"Nah, it's all okay," I smiled when he pulled me in for his normal, one-armed hug. "Well done, son. I'm so proud of you." He stared at me, his eyes glinting in the dim light of the auditorium. I felt myself do an inner fist punch, celebrating. "Thanks, Dad. I meant it about you and Mom. Thanks for stayng with me through the goddamned thick and thin."
"We're your parents, Edward. We're always going to be there for you," Mom said thickly. I grinned sheepishly and kissed her cheek, unable to help myself.
Em boomed from behind me. "Mama and Papa Cullen! We're going to steal Edward for awhile, okay? Nah, you don't even have to answer that. We're graduated, assholes!" Mom glared teasingly at him while Dad just patted his back, "Well done, son. You and Jasper - one of my best boys." Jazz materialized beside me, and it would've bugged me long ago, but now I just got used to it. He's a ninja like that.
"Thanks, Dad," he pretended to tip his hat. Alice, Rosalie and Bella took turns hugging Dad while Charlie did the same thing with us. "Now, this ain't no graduation without . . . this!" Emmett shouted, and threw me over his shoulder. "Dude, what the hell?!" I screamed like a pathetic little girl. I didn't care; when you brother suddenly carries you up his shoulder like some moron, you lose whatever manly pride you have. That shit ain't the slightest bit kosher.
Bella tried to help me - yes, she's that much of a sweetheart - and tugged and pulled at Emmett's biceps as hard as she could. But that was comparing a tiny ant next to a hippo. She'll never win the battle alone. So my unhelpful, completely retarded siblings stood as standbys and even helped throwing me in the air, screaming, "For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow!"
Yep. Graduation was such an embarrassing pain in the ass.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Two days later, I was running my hands through my hair again, tugging at the uncomfortable tie I was wearing. Today was the day that Emmett would be tied down to Rosalie. Today was the day he'll lose his stud name, whatever freedom he has left will now be exterminated (Rose, sweetie, if you're reading this, please don't take any offence. And also, please spare my body from any grievous harm you might want to extricate as revenge on me.)
And of course, Mom and Dad being Mom and Dad . . . well, let's just say they're on the warpath, trying to make sure everything was perfect for their children's wedding. Once she got around the whole idea itself, after berating Rose and Em of course, she took on the role of helping Alice plan the wedding. Rose was Rose, and she wanted it to be crazily extravagant, which was just baffling for me because who in their right mind would invite the whole of Forks?
But anyway, I'm not going to complain.
I just know that life's good, everything I've ever wanted - wished, hoped, prayed, whatever you really wanna add in here - is placed right in my arms. I have a beautiful, loving girlfriend, an actual family . . . and friends. I've found my closure through time, music, and love. With the help of my family and Bella, I managed to gain the courage to accept the Julliard scholarship, though Bella declined, applying for Brown University instead. A couple of weeks later, she received her acceptance letter.
And even though I'm only eighteen - now going nineteen - I just know that someday, at the right time and place - I'll be standing in Emmett's place right now, waiting for the love of his life to walk through the doors with the biggest smile on her face, knowing that she'd be tied down to the one man she's ever loved her entire life.
I watched as Bella trailed in before my sister, her eyes gleaming with tears of joy for her friend . . . her sister, and her brother. When she met my gaze, she grinned a face-splitting smile that I could feel radiate off my own mask of indifference. I lost it then, and everything that I was looking for in my life was answered.
In her eyes, I saw my true home.
I've always wondered what it was like living a dream. Not that I have any doubts about Edward or my family - of course not. I'm sure of that, at least. But watching Rosalie and Emmett, my sister and my brother even past the blood, I felt an odd sense of pride and . . . sheer happiness. I hope my glow wouldn't outshine the bride's moment.
When I caught Edward looking at me, it felt like there was nothing more I could possibly want. With him by my side, I knew what I wanted for myself in the future - a stable job of being an editor. I was never going to be able to be a writer, and maybe being an editor might be difficult, but there's no going back for me. I was going to Brown University, with Em, Rose, Jazz, Al and of course, Edward. We were going to share a whole penthouse - I know; blame Charlie, Renee, Carlisle and Esme - and I was excited by the concept of it all.
Alice was so clever - she probably predicted that I'd be crying for the whole ceremony - and let me wear little make-up that was water-proof. As pansy as it sounded, I couldn't help but cry at the ultimate moment when Em leaned down to kiss Rose so tenderly, so lovingly, that I just broke and saw images of me and Edward, in that same place, his lips touching mine as we're pronounced man and wife.
Oh god, I really needed to get a hold of myself.
When the ceremony was over and we were heading towards a hotel for the reception, Alice, Jasper, Edward and I packed inside this huge car, one of which Rosalie had helped in restoring. She and Emmett would be in another, more sophisticated vehicle that had shoes carefully tied at its bumper. "Well, Bellsy," Jazz looked at me curiously - he had adopted the fond nickname Emmett had for me - before smirking, "when will you and Edward's trip down the aisle be?"
I blushed, then reached over to smack his arm. "Shut up, Jasper. How about you? No plans for a big wedding day for Al?" I heard a gasp and turned to see Alice wickedly excited, those brown eyes of hers lighting up with crazy plans already. I laughed before settling back into Edward's arms contentedly. He was a bit stiff, and I wondered why so. Maybe he was still affected by Rose and Em's wedding?
Looking back at his expression, his green eyes looking ahead and seeing nothing, I frowned. Sure, Edward and I weren't always the perfect couple - we still had our fights, we still disagreed on certain stuff, but we always managed to go through with it in the end. He hated upsetting me; I hated upsetting him. In our relationship, it was all about give and take, honesty, and patience. We both made it clear that we weren't always going to be little skipping fairies, but nonetheless, we were happy.
So when Edward's fists clenched, I could not see why he was being so angry on the day his sister and brother tied the knot.
"What's wrong, babe?" I asked him, curious. Edward snapped out of his reverie and turned to look down at me. He smiled woefully at first before kissing my temple. "Nothing, baby. Just thinking 'bout something." I decided to let it go; it was a nice day not to be ruined by some heavy, emotional talk. Besides, Alice would murder me if Edward and I had a fight on Rosalie's wedding day. She did not work her butt off for this for nothing.
Rosalie and Emmett were just so breathtaking. After all the salutations were done, and after all the mandatory details - such as the removal of garter, the shoving of cake - had been gone through, Em pulled Rose towards the dance floor for the first dance. I watched as they danced, looking so blissfully happy with each other that I found myself tearing up again. They looked so much older than they were supposed to be, no more than eighteen, but yet they made it seem like they've already been married for years.
I was just so happy that they were happy.
"D'you wanna dance?" Edward asked me later, inclining his head towards the dance floor when we saw that practically every couple was dancing, including Alice and Jasper. I smiled up at him, nodding my head. We danced, Edward and I, moving from side to side. He knew I hated dancing really intricately, so instead he kept it simple, moving in a square formation.
Jasper, my dad and Emmett took turns dancing with me. "Naw, Bellsy, don't cry!" Emmett laughed, his huge hands covering my face and wiping off my happy tears. "You know it kills me when you cry. If you cry, then I'll probably make an ass out of myself by crying too. And then Edward and Jasper will go after me, thinking I'm the one who made you cry. Stop it, Bellsy, or I'll have to bring in the big guns," he nodded towards Edward, who was eyeing him in wonder and confusion.
I laughed and punched his arm. "Nah, you don't have to. I'm just happy."
"Well, you're ruining the moment. This could be my last time to make you laugh before Edward-" Em's blue eyes widened, his mouth opening to an 'O,' but before I could ask him what it was, Carlisle snuck up on the both of us. He asked if he could have this dance with me, and because I was such a sucker, I said yes.
Carlisle Cullen wasn't all that insufferable. He's a good man, really, he was, but sometimes he just didn't know how to show it. In the year that had passed, he spent majority of his time reconnecting with his children, including me, which was a surprise. He was actually really good at understanding us teens - he seemed more level-headed as long as you don't annoy him too much. Emmett likes to test his control, though. Lucky for him, Edward served as a referee between them two when they decided to duke it out. Jazz, as always, was the resident slacker - he just sat back and watched the show.
Yeah, I love my family. A lot.
"You seem very emotional today, sweetheart," Carlisle laughed as he spun me around. I smiled back, "It's a bit hard to get used to seeing Emmett as a married man. Plus, the both of them look so happy together."
The man I once thought to be ruthless smiled gently as he gazed at his two children. "They are," he turned to me, "and what about you? No future plans for you and Edward yet?" I blushed furiously, much to his amusement, and Edward saved me from an embarrassing talk with his dad. He mock glared at Carlisle as he held me tighter to his side.
"Dad, c'mon, I leave her with you for two minutes and already she's embarrassed beyond belief." He laughed, and I gasped before stabbing him at his arm. "Shut up, Cullen," I growled, "don't ruin this for me, dammit!" Then I smiled widely for good measure, and both of the Cullen men laughed. Edward whisked me away, taking me outside of the hotel and into it's built-in garden. The moon was almost full tonight - it shined down on both of us. I grinned as Edward twirled me underneath the stars, ignoring all the weird looks he was getting from the tourists.
I leaned my head against his chest and sighed contentedly.
Edward wrapped his arms around me, his warm body pressing against mine. He whispered, "Hey, Bella?"
"Hmm?" I hummed, burying my nose deep into his chest and bringing my hands up onto it, feeling how hard and muscular his body was. Yep. I could never get used to how strong and definitely handsome my boyfriend was. "Can I ask you something?"
I held my head away from him, watching as his green eyes danced with amusement. "Sure . . .?" I trailed off, unsure about what he wanted from me. Edward took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and then peeked one open. He smiled shyly, "I just . . . I guess I just want to thank you, Bella, because helped open my eyes to realize who and what I really am. Everything that I've done, everything, I owe it to you. Bella, you are . . . the most important person to me, ever. And it's because of your love that I've grown so much as a person. Bella . . . I love you. I really do."
Edward took another deep breath, and my heart pounded from his words. I was about to reply when he suddenly knelt down on the grass - tuxedo and all - and my heart just stopped. My mouth fell open, and my hand flew immediately up to my chest. Eyes growing wide with franticness, I stood there, completely frozen into place.
But all Edward did was to pull out a tiny, dark blue box. His emeralds were serious and smoldering into me. I couldn't even breathe right. My head was spinning in circles, and I felt light-headed. Breathe, Bella. C'mon. Don't faint now. Not when Edward's on the verge of proposing. Gah! Proposing!
"Isabella Marie Swan, I promise to have and to hold you, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poor . . . I vow to love you till death do us part, and even then, I'll love you in heaven itself. Bella, baby . . . will you marry me?" And then Edward pulled out the most gorgeous ring I've ever seen - so simple and perfect, so pure and pristine that everything I felt gripping me onto reality slipped away. I reached for it, touching the smooth circle of the stone embedded onto the surface of the most beautiful ring I've ever seen.
"Yes," I replied simply, with no hesitation, looking into those shimmering emeralds of his. And just like that, Edward picked me up, twirling me around and around, laughing. I felt hot tears of fresh joy - this time for my own being - running down my face as I wrapped my arms tightly around Edward's neck. So this was why Emmett had nearly shit bricks earlier - he knew that Edward was going to propose to me.
"Christ, you don't know how happy I am right now! I thought you were gonna say no!" Edward exulted when he set me down. I raised an eyebrow, my mouth still set in a maniacal grin of utter happiness. "Why?"
He looked at me like I was the crazy one. "Bella; we're still too young. I figured that if you were going to say no, at least I could use that as an excuse to help prepare my ego for incoming denial. And besides . . . I wanted to propose to you not because I wanted to get married directly on the next day, or the next month, but because . . . well, I wanted to the ring to represent my promises to you that someday, though just not right now, we'll both be seeing each other at the altar."
I grinned; Edward knew me so well that he knew I wouldn't be thinking of marriage when I'd see the ring. Though it was definitely on my list for my future, I still wanted to live my life while I was still young. I wanted to live and be my age, to enjoy college with the rest of my family. Edward smiled, immediately reading whatever thought I had spelling out on my face.
Sliding the ring onto my left finger, I held it up and asked, "This must've been a hell lot to pay."
Edward shuffled a bit before holding my hand against his cheek. "It didn't cost a dime; this was my mom's engagement ring." I gasped and looked down once more onto the ring that used to belong to Elizabeth Masen. "Oh Edward, it's so perfect," I murmured, the tears choking up my throat once more. Edward used his finger to bring my chin up to him. "Hey, c'mon, no more tears. Or I'll think you don't want to marry me," he grinned.
I laughed, his distraction working. "Okay, okay. But really, Edward, this ring is beautiful. Thank you," I kissed him once on his lips, "and I love you. Forever."
"Forever." He agreed and leaned down to capture my lips once again.
Author's Note: I have so many people to thank for the making of this story. First and foremost - it's my readers. Thanks for all your support, your awesome PMs, your wonderful, wonderful insights into my story. Critiques, reviews and all of the other schnitz that you guys do for my CYKAS. Thank you. Really. This story is here all because of you. Oh crap. Now I really am crying. Writing CYKAS has been such a joy - my first story venturing into the AH world of Twilight. So thank you, really, I can't thank you guys enough. Also, huge, HUGE shout-outs to dvickd, AliceRosalieBellaCullen1234, MeFromMars, and finally, Emoprincess98 for being such wonderful reviewers and readers. Especially to AliceRosalieBellaCullen1234 and Emoprincess98 - you guys were the ones who first reviewed CYKAS and helped contributed to garnering the interest of more readers from your reviews. Thanks, guys. I wish I could give all of you Alice's Turbo.
Second, this chapter is dedicated to my friend who died. RIP, sweetheart. Even though you can't read this, I love you.
Lastly, what do you say about leaving one last review of ol' Serenity here? =) I give you all my love and thanks! Oh, and Twilight didn't belong to me. Never have, never will.
For the very last time for this story . . .