Angel's Heart and a Devil's Hand
Author Name: earthprincess4
Paring: Edward and Bella
Summary: An old west story set in the mid 1800's. Edward is a young sheriff, Bella is his soon to be bride, and James is the gang member who killed his father when he was a young boy.
Thank you sister_liz for all the work you do for me on beta'ing all these stories I write.
Thank you christag_banner and mkystich for the amazing banner.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the characters involved. No copyright infringement intended.
What I donated to Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness.
I don't really remember my father much. He died when I was only a couple years old. All I know about him is the stories my mother, Elizabeth, told me as I grew up. He was the best shot in the west. He was a cool and collected, fair and proud sheriff who took his job seriously. He was loved by all, including women. He was faithful to my ma, though. He loved her with an intensity of ten men, or so she says.
My mother and father had a whirlwind relationship. My mother was traveling with her family towards the California gold rush along with hundreds of other people. Their wagon train got lost and my dad, who was the sheriff of the nearby town of Laramie, Wyoming, found them wandering around and helped them find their way back to the main trail. My mother was barely seventeen the first time she saw my father. She described it as love at first sight. All she knew was she didn't plan to go any further on the trail. She was planning to marry the sheriff she had just met. My father spent an entire night with this wagon train, after they found their way back to the trail. They all wanted to celebrate and thank him properly for helping them. My mother always liked to think he stayed because of her. Either way, during that night my mother and father fell in love. Against her parent's wishes, the following morning my mother left with the sheriff and never looked back. They were married a day later and almost a year to the date they met, I was born. My ma says my father was so proud of me, he would carry me around town to show me off to all the townspeople. I was his pride and joy and he wanted everyone to know who I was. My ma couldn't have been happier. She had the life she always dreamed. My father gave her a wonderful home, a son, and a town who loved her just as much as he did.
A couple years after I was born a gang of robbers hit our town and my father died in the crossfire. I don't know if I remember it exactly, but I do have dreams sometimes where my mother is standing by his graveside crying and women from the town are doing their best to hold her together. I don't think my mother was ever the same after he died. The only thing keeping her alive was me. Without me she probably would have died right along with him.
Being my father's legacy, I was determined to be just like him. I wanted to be the sheriff of our town and make him proud. It seemed everyone who knew my pa became my surrogate fathers. My mother and I were taken care of by just about everyone in the town. There were two men in particular who I spent more of my time with, Carlisle Cullen and Charlie Swan. They were my father's deputies when he was still sheriff, and instead of electing one of them to be the new sheriff they shared the responsibility. Carlisle and his wife Esme never had any children, while Charlie and his wife Renee only had a daughter. I became the son they both always wanted. They taught me how to be a man. I was taught how to shoot, how to rope, how to trap and track, and how to look at things in a fair way instead of an opinionated way. I grew up never lacking in fatherly love. Those two men were the closest thing I had to a father.
My mother never got over loving my father. She never remarried or even looked at another man. She told me she loved my father so much she would remain faithful to him until her death. I never quite understood her stories of love at first sight or faithful love until death, until I fell in love with my Bella.
Isabella was Charlie Swan's daughter. I never paid much attention to her growing up. Most of the time I saw her as a nuisance and a whiny little kid who had to follow me around everywhere I went. While Charlie would be teaching me how to shoot, rope, or even track, Isabella always had to tag along. Charlie babied her and let her come even if it slowed us down. No matter what we did, she always had to do it better or be the first to do it. She was a better shot and the first to shoot a deer, she was a better roper and the first to rope a cow, she was better at everything. She drove me crazy from the time I was seven years old until… well, she still drives me crazy, but in a different way.
I didn't fall in love with her until I was seventeen. I never paid much attention to girls. I was too distracted with shooting and riding horses. I remember that spring when it happened, though. It had been a long and hard winter for all of us. I hadn't seen Charlie or even Carlisle for almost four months. Finally, after the snow melted away and I didn't think I could take much more of the cooking and sewing lessons my mother forced upon me, I rode off towards the Swan ranch. Charlie was so happy to see me and asked me to stay for supper. I graciously accepted. Renee Swan was a wonderful cook, almost as good as my own ma. However, while in the barn, Charlie informed me Renee had taken ill during the winter and Isabella had to take over most of the duties of the home while Renee recovered. All I remembered of Isabella's cooking growing up was most of the time she burned it. Funny thing is, I was probably better at cooking and even sewing than she was and could probably beat her at her own game, but I never did. I didn't want to be known as the kid who could only beat Isabella at a woman's job. I just worked harder and trained longer to become a better man for Charlie, Carlisle, and my father to be proud of. I was dreading whatever it was she planned to cook that night. Charlie and I walked into the house, and that's when I saw her. She changed during the four months I hadn't seen her. She went from being a gangly tomboy to this stunningly beautiful woman. I caught myself staring at her all through supper. The meal she made was probably the most amazing meal I'd ever had. I knew it was probably just because I was so suddenly infatuated with Isabella, but it was really good. I even asked for seconds, which she politely dished up for me with a prideful smile on her face.
After I left that night, I tried to figure out what exactly happened to me. I was sure something was wrong with me to look at Isabella the way I did. I kept hoping it would go away, but I found myself being drawn to her more and more as time went on. I finally talked to my mother about it, thinking maybe Isabella had put some sort of spell on me. My mother laughed at me, which made me quite angry, until she explained I was in love with Isabella. At first, I refused to believe that's what it was. I couldn't possibly be in love with the same girl I once despised. However, as time went on I only grew more infatuated with her. Charlie and Renee trusted me completely with her and probably never saw the strange new obsession I had with her so we were pretty much allowed to do whatever we wanted without proper supervision. I guess Charlie never expected I'd actually fall in love with his daughter since growing up we didn't care for each other much.
For a while, I remained strictly platonic with her. I still wasn't entirely sold on the conclusion my ma had about being in love with her. I just wanted to see what happened as time passed. If things changed, or if the feelings were stronger, then I'd know what was happening. I didn't want to have feelings for her if they weren't reciprocated. As time went on though, the attachment I had for her only became more apparent. I couldn't imagine my life without her. She was still so young, though. I was nearly three years older than her. And to make matters worse I didn't think she felt the same way.
Close to Isabella's fifteenth birthday Carlisle's dog had a litter of puppies and he wanted to give me one of them. I was actually very excited about having a dog and I knew my mom would love having a dog around for protection. I named him Sam, and even though he was just a mutt of a dog, I knew he would end up being a good and loyal friend. As Isabella's birthday got closer, I wanted to give her something special that would make her realize how much I liked her but at the same time not be too obvious. After giving it some thought, I decided to ask Carlisle if I could buy one of the other puppies from him. He questioned why and I tried to play it off as no big deal why I wanted to give Isabella a puppy for her birthday. To be honest, I think this was probably the first birthday I had ever given her a gift. If that in itself wasn't obvious enough, then I don't know how much more I had to do to spell it out for her and everyone else. With a knowing smirk on his face, Carlisle agreed to let me buy one of the puppies for Isabella. I used up all my savings to buy that puppy, and I'm pretty sure Carlisle gave it to me for a lot less than he would sell them to anyone else. He suggested I give her the one and only female from the litter of six. She was the only one who wasn't solid colored. She had the dark brown coat like her brothers but on her chest was a heart shaped patch of white. She was perfect.
As soon as the puppies were old enough to leave their mother I proudly carried that puppy over to the Swan ranch to give her to Isabella. When I arrived at the doorstep, I suddenly realized this was it. If she didn't feel the same way I would inevitably find out today. My heart was beating so fast I was sure it was going to beat out of my chest.
Renee opened the door and gave me the once over with a scowl on her face. I got the impression over the years Renee didn't care for me much. Maybe it was because Charlie treated me like his own son and looked out for me and my ma through the years, or maybe it was because in some way she thought I encouraged Isabella to be a tomboy growing up.
"If you're looking for Charlie he's in the town doing some work," she promptly explained without waiting for me to speak or even greeting me politely.
I swallowed thickly against the nervous lump in my throat before speaking. "I was actually looking for Isabella. Is she home?"
Her eyes narrowed as she continued to stare at me. "She's in the barn doing her chores."
I nodded my head politely and thanked her before heading towards the barn. I walked inside and found Isabella in one of the stalls milking their cow. I watched her for a few moments taking in her beauty and strength. She stopped for only a second while she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. I listened to her hum a tune as she worked, and at one point when the cow got a little testy she soothed the cow's nerves by talking to her. I stood in the doorway with a prideful grin on my face while I fell even more in love with her than I already was. I could watch her all day and never get tired.
The little puppy in my arms made a small whimper prompting Isabella to jump and tip over the milk in the bucket.
"Great!" she expressed with so much sadness and anger in her voice. "Look what you made me do? Now what am I going to do?"
"I'm sorry," I apologized regrettably. "I'll get you some more milk if you want. I can go into the town to get some. I'm sure I can find someone who could sell me a little." Knowing I didn't have any money since I just spent it on the puppy I wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish it, but I would definitely try.
"Don't bother," she refused angrily. "I can probably squeeze out a little more to make it through the night."
"I really am sorry, Isabella. I didn't mean to frighten you."
She went back to milking the cow and turned around briefly while she continued to work. "Did you come over to brag about your new puppy Carlisle gave you?" she asked, motioning towards the puppy in my arms. "I don't really care if that's why you're here." She turned around and continued milking the cow rather roughly and even the cow was beginning to protest.
"No, I didn't come here to brag. Why would you think that?"
"You very rarely ever come over anymore. And if you do, you and my pa take off, leaving me home. I used to be allowed to go with you but not anymore. Not since my pa's arm has been bugging him. He only has time for you now." A few years ago Charlie was accidentally shot in the arm by an uncontrollable drunk when Charlie was trying to remove him from the bar. He wasn't hurt too badly but his arm has bugged him ever since and he hasn't been able to shoot like he used to.
I walked a little closer so I could see her face. "Are you jealous?" I asked.
"No!" she quickly spurted. "It's just not fair. I used to be able to go but ma doesn't want me to grow up like a boy. She wants me to be a lady because men will be looking at me as a possible future wife now, and no one is going to want to marry a tomboy who doesn't even know how to cook or clean. I know how to do all those things just fine. There's no reason why I can't learn how to do all the other stuff also."
"I could never marry someone who didn't know how to shoot a gun or ride horse back or even how to survive on their own," I explained.
She stopped for a brief moment and looked up at me with a curious expression. I chuckled under my breath and ducked my head in embarrassment.
"I wanted my pa to buy me a gun for my birthday. I was sure he was going to but my ma stepped in and told him I wasn't allowed to have one because I was a girl. It's not fair. Instead, for my birthday my ma gave me sewing goods and a silly little brooch. What am I going to do with a brooch? I don't like jewelry."
"Sorry, Isabella," I sympathized. "I guess we all can't get exactly what we want."
"What are you doing here, Edward?" she asked going back to her work.
"I brought you something?" I answered walking a little closer and placing the puppy on the ground in front of her. "I know you already had your birthday, but the puppies weren't ready to leave their mamma until now."
She stopped milking the cow and stared down at the puppy in front of her with a shocked expression.
"You're giving me your puppy?" she asked.
"No," I laughed. "I bought you one of them. My puppy is at home with my ma."
She reached down and picked the puppy up to cradle in her arms. I saw the slightest smile across her face. "You bought me a puppy for my birthday?" she questioned.
I cleared my throat and dipped my head nervously. "Yeah, well, I thought you might like to have one. It was the only female in the bunch and Carlisle thought you would like this one."
She bit her lip trying to fight the smile which was quickly creeping up on her face. "You've never given me anything for my birthday before," she pointed out.
I shrugged my shoulders and ran my hand through my hair nervously. "Well I thought it was a good time to start, I guess."
"Thank you, Edward. She's the best gift I've ever gotten."
"You're welcome," I replied with another nervous chuckle. I started to walk out of the barn but she called me back.
"Does she have a name?" she asked as soon as I walked back over to where she was.
"She's yours. You get to name her."
She looked down at her new little puppy and patted her head a few times. "I'm going to name her Daisy."
"Daisy?" I scoffed. "I guess it's a nice name."
"What did you name yours?" she asked.
"Sam," I replied.
"Sam? Just Sam?"
"What's wrong with Sam?" I asked.
"Nothing it's just a little plain."
"It's better than naming him after a flower," I retorted defensively.
She huffed and glared up at me. "There are reasons why I want to name her Daisy other than just naming her after a flower."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Fine." I turned to walk out but stopped one last time. "You know, if you want I can go with you when you want to shoot or fish or whatever it is you want to do that you're no longer allowed to do."
"You would?" she asked excitedly.
"Yeah, I mean, we've always done those things together anyway. I'm sure we could work something out. We may have to hide it from your ma, though. I don't think she likes me much," I chuckled.
Isabella laughed and cuddled her puppy a little closer. "She doesn't, but she tolerates you," she admitted.
"What did I do to make her not like me?" I asked.
"What didn't you do?" she countered not really giving me a straight answer. "I'm sure I could sneak away occasionally. I will need to train this dog properly, right?"
I smiled and nodded my head at her suggestion for her cover. "I'll see you tomorrow then."
For months we met in secret to practice shooting and to train the dogs. We even hunted a few times. Isabella never seemed bothered by gutting and cleaning the kills. Most girls would never come near something so grotesque. Not Isabella, though. She was strong and determined to do everything I did and do it better. I began calling her Bella as a pet name, which she absolutely adored and told me I was no longer allowed to call her Isabella.
By the time she turned sixteen we were still meeting in secret to train and practice but it was a little different now. The boys in the town were noticing her and making their interest known which made me a little jealous. I wanted to tell her how I felt but I still couldn't find the courage to do so. However, like true Isabella fashion, she went first.
I remember it so well. We had snuck off on a hot summer day to fish for a while. Both of us were rather quiet while we sat there on the bank of the river with our lines floating in the water.
"Jacob asked me if I wanted to go on a picnic with him next Saturday afternoon," she blurted suddenly breaking the silence between us.
"I think I might go. Jacob is a nice young man and he's been sweet on me for years. My ma would absolutely love him also," she continued.
"Yeah, Jacob is nice. You should go," I added, mentally kicking myself for agreeing with her.
She sighed irritably and stood to her feet to reel in her pole and gather up Daisy, who was off with Sam digging in a nearby rabbit hole.
"Did I say something wrong?" I asked standing to my feet next to her.
She stopped and turned towards me. "If you want to kiss me will you just do it already?" she ordered.
"What?" I asked in horror.
"I know you want to. Why aren't you making it known to all those other boys that I'm yours?" she wondered angrily.
"I… You… I can't… What I mean…," I stuttered trying to find the right words in an impossible situation. How could she be so bold so suddenly and take me off guard so easily? "Bella, you can't just ask me to kiss you and expect me to do it. I don't want to kiss you just to kiss you. I want it to mean something and I want to be sure it's what you want me to do."
She huffed and closed the distance between us, wrapping her arms around my neck and pulling me closer. Her lips collided with mine in a soft and sweet kiss. I was absolutely stunned by her boldness. When she pulled away and took a couple steps back, I stood there with my mouth hanging open while staring at her. Her head hung in embarrassment.
Collecting my composure, I sighed heavily. "Why did you do that?" Her head jerked up with fear written across her face. "I wanted to make the first move. Why do you always have to do everything first?" I asked with a playful tone.
She smirked and walked over to me placing a simple kiss on my cheek. "It's not in my nature to let you go first," she whispered against my ear before she ran off through the field towards her home. I watched with a satisfied smile on my face until she was out of site.
From that day on Bella and I were inseparable. It was no secret to anyone who knew us we were sweet on each other. It became even harder for us to see each other alone. Suddenly, we were only allowed to see each other if there was a chaperone of some sort around. I spent many nights having supper with the Swan family, and afterwards Isabella and I would spend time together in their small parlor playing games or reading together. It wasn't exactly how we would have liked it, but it worked.
Renee was still not too fond of me, but I tried not to let it get to me. Isabella protested against her mother's jabs quite often, which made me proud to know Isabella would stand up to her own mother to protect me. Out of everyone I'd ever known, Renee Swan scared me the most. Even if I trusted Bella's feelings for me, her mother still had a strong hold on Bella and could very easily convince Bella I wasn't good enough for her. I could never let that happen. I did everything in my power to impress Renee so she knew my intentions were genuine, but it didn't seem to do much help.
I finally got up the nerve to ask Charlie why Renee didn't care for me and his only response was because she always knew I would take her daughter away from her. I encouraged Bella to do things she wasn't supposed to as a girl and Renee didn't like that. It wasn't anything against me; it was just a mother's attachment to not only her daughter, but her only child. I guess I kind of understood. I knew my own mother had trouble letting me grow up as well. If she had her way I would have stayed a child forever.
On a rare occasion, Isabella and I were able to get away and spend some time alone together we walked hand in hand through the fields and spent most of the day lying out along the river bank. I leaned up on my elbow next to her brushing my fingers through her long mahogany colored hair and admiring her beauty while she closed her eyes and enjoyed the sunshine on her face.
"Are you going to marry me?" I asked playfully.
Her eyes opened and she smiled up at me. "Well, I don't know. I have to be asked properly first. Things can change before then also."
"What do you mean change?"
"I don't plan to marry until I'm at least eighteen. A lot can change between now and then. You'll have to ask again after I'm eighteen if you still want to."
"You won't even agree to marry me when you turn eighteen?" I questioned.
"No," she answered with a smile. She sat up shoving me to my back and pinning me to the ground before kissing me. "I can't promise you anything, and I won't give you an answer until then. However, keep in mind I definitely won't marry you if you aren't faithful. It's still a little over a year away before I turn eighteen and I know how those saloon girls look at you and flirt with you every time you come near. I especially notice the one named Tanya who seems to have some sort of attachment to you ever since you became a deputy. I won't marry you if you ever…"
"Bella," I interrupted with a chuckle. I knew what she meant, but I didn't know why she thought I wouldn't be faithful to her. She was my one and only love. I'd never want anyone but her. Although, I knew what she saw when Tanya was around. Those saloon girls were relentless. They would do anything to get a man into their bed just to survive. I was thankful my ma never had to resort to that sort of behavior to support us. Thankfully, my ma was an extraordinary seamstress who was able to support us financially by those means. "None of those saloon girls, or anyone else for that matter, holds a candle to my feelings for you. If you want me to wait, I'll wait for as long as I have to. You will always be my one and only."
I reached up and brushed her hair off her cheek, tucking it behind her ear before leaning up and kissing her in the most sensual and loving way possible.
"I love you," she whispered after our kiss broke.
"Bella," I whined.
"You can't ever let me do anything first can you?" I asked in frustration. "I wanted to be the first to say it."
"Then why haven't you?" she questioned.
I looked away nervously and ran my hands along her sides. "I've just been waiting for the right moment. I wanted it to perfect."
"Well, unlike you I won't wait forever. A girl needs to hear the words to believe a man's affections. I've wondered all along if you truly did love me or if this was just a game to you."
"How could you ever say that?" I asked sitting up and allowing her to sit on my lap. I placed my hands on her cheeks cupping her face in the palms of my hands. "I would think by my actions alone my love for you would be rather obvious."
"When did you know?" she wondered. "I knew rather early that I loved you, but when did you know?"
"The day I came over for supper after that long winter we had a few years ago. Charlie and I walked into the house and there you stood making supper and taking my breath away, changing my life forever in one single moment. What about you?"
She smiled and even giggled a little before answering. "When I was ten years old," she answered. "We were out hunting with my pa and I remember we were standing in the middle of a daisy patch when you shot your first rabbit. You were so proud of that little rabbit and the expression on your face was the most endearing and stunning look. I just knew I would love you forever even if you never loved me in return."
"I remember that day. It was the day you outdid me once again by shooting a deer while all I got was a measly rabbit," I reminisced with a chuckle.
"I had to be better. If I wasn't, then you wouldn't want me around anymore. The way you treated me growing up, made me believe you would always hate me."
"I never hated you, Bella. I was just irritated because you always had to outdo me."
"I just wanted you to notice me," she admitted shyly.
"Believe me, I noticed."
Her giggle was so soft and pure music to my ears. I couldn't help but take advantage of the moment with a kiss. Her lips always tasted so sweet; I never wanted our kisses to end. Unfortunately, she jumped up and ran a few feet away from me in a playful manner. I hopped to my feet and chased after her.
"You still haven't exactly told me you love me, you know?" she pointed out in a flirtatious way while trying to evade capture from my arms.
She laughed and giggled freely as I chased after her, causing me to do the same. I finally did catch her and pulled her in close as she tried to squirm free from my arms. I pressed my lips to hers firmly, letting our bodies become flush against each other. I brushed a strand of hair out of her face and looked deeply into her eyes. "I love you," I said as strong and sure as I possibly could. Her arms wrapped around my neck and she grinned excitedly. "In less than two years I'm going to marry you, and I'm going to give you the life and home any woman would envy. We're going to make a beautiful family, and I'm going to become the sheriff of our town just like my father was. Everything will be perfect," I promised.
"I think you're forgetting something," she pointed out tightening her arms around my neck while I did the same around her waist.
"And what might that be?" I asked playing along.
"You are going to need to ask my pa for permission to marry me. I'm not so sure my father is as fond of you as you think he is."
"Charlie loves me. He'll let me have his daughter when the time is right."
"I sure hope so. I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else but you."
"And we will; in exactly sixteen months and five days. I promise."
At twenty years old I became the youngest sheriff of our town. I wasn't expecting to become sheriff. I thought I would be a deputy for at least five years and work my way up. But Carlisle was getting older and wanted to let go of his youth, while Charlie's arm was beginning to bother him more and more as he got older. I guess I was the only one who was truly qualified for the job after them. When I was elected I saw the pride in Carlisle and Charlie's eyes I always imagined my father would have had. My mother, even though she tried to hide it, hated me becoming the sheriff. She saw my father all over again. I always tried to assure her I would be just fine. The west wasn't as bad as it was twenty years ago, and I had enough townspeople to stand by me and my decisions. My mother was a worrier though. She always feared for my life.
Bella stood next to me proudly as I was sworn in. I always noticed other men in our town watching her and looking at us with jealously in their eyes. Everyone loved Bella and wanted her, but she chose me.
I respected Bella's wishes about not asking her to marry me until she was eighteen, even though if I had my way we would have married long ago. I waited patiently though, and while I waited, I worked hard at preparing for our future. We couldn't exactly live with my ma, even if she would have loved it if we did. So, I spent those sixteen months building us a humble home on the outskirts of town about sixty feet away from my mother. She would never have it if I lived too far away. My ma needed me even if she tried to be strong and act as if she didn't need anyone. She needed someone to give her a sense of worth and belonging.
During those sixteen months while being a deputy and eventually the sheriff, along with building our house and trying to prepare for our future, I didn't get to see Bella as much. I missed her dreadfully. I wanted to spend all my time with her, but I couldn't and she understood why.
On Bella's eighteenth birthday my mother was waiting for me at the table when I walked into the house at the end of the day.
"Sit down, Edward," she ordered.
I walked towards the table and took a seat across from her. "What's wrong, Ma?"
"Nothing is wrong, Son," she assured taking my hand in hers and rubbing her other hand across my arm. "Today is Bella's eighteenth birthday. I know over the last few years you two have been rather close, and I know you plan to ask her to marry you."
"Yes, I do," I replied.
She nodded her head and gave me a weak smile. "Did you get her a ring?"
"No," I laughed. Bella would never want a ring. I got her something even better.
"Then I want you to have my ring to give to Bella." She slipped the simple wedding band with its small diamond off her finger and slid it across the table.
"Ma, I can't. This is your ring. This is the ring my father gave you. I can't take it," I refused, sliding it back across the table.
"Edward, your father would have wanted you to have it. I have always looked at Bella as a daughter and I'd be honored if she wore this ring. I want her to have it."
"Are you sure? You've never once taken that ring off your finger until this moment. I can always buy a ring for Bella. She won't care what it is or where it came from. She probably wouldn't even care if I didn't give her a ring at all."
"You will not be asking that girl to marry you without presenting her with a ring," she ordered sharply. After pausing for a moment she rubbed my hand and smiled at me. "It would mean a lot to me to see my son's bride wearing the same ring your father gave to me all those years ago."
I picked up the ring and held it in my hand while looking it over. Thinking about it, I didn't think Bella would want a ring, but maybe my mom was right about giving her a ring when I asked her. It was what a man was supposed to do. Her mother and father would probably prefer I give her a ring as well. "Thank you, Ma. I'm sure Bella will love it."
She smiled and rubbed my arm before standing. "You should get going. I don't think Isabella will wait forever," she said with a happy grin.
I chuckled, thinking about what Bella said about waiting months ago. I slipped the ring into my pocket before walking around the table, kissing my ma on the cheek and hugging her tightly.
"Thank you," I whispered again.
"You are very welcome," she whispered back choking up from the sobs threatening to burst from her throat.
She held me out at arm's length, looking me over with a proud and almost saddened look before gesturing for me to go. I rushed outside and saddled up my horse and securely tied Bella's other gift to the side of the saddle.
"After Isabella says yes let her know I have a little gift for her," my ma informed as I mounted my horse.
"Don't forget to ask her father for permission first," she called out to me as I rode away.
"I know, Ma. I'll ask him."
I rode off down the road going over exactly what I was going to say and do in my head when I got to Bella's house. I knew she was expecting me today, since it was her birthday. I hadn't missed her birthday since she turned fourteen and I gave her Daisy. But I didn't know if she was expecting me to ask her to marry her today or not. We never discussed asking her exactly on her birthday, well not really anyway. I always planned to, but I never discussed it directly with her. Maybe I should have, I thought to myself, suddenly beginning to get nervous. What if she wasn't ready? What if she changed her mind after all this time? We hadn't been able to spend as much time together recently. She very well could have finally given in to Jake's constant requests without me even knowing about it. What if her ma talks her father or even Bella into refusing my request? I was already a nervous wreck by the time I rode up in front of their house. The sun was just beginning to set over the mountains when I got off my horse and took a deep breath to muster up all my courage to face her family.
I knocked on her door and Charlie answered. "Hey there, Edward," he greeted. "Come on in."
"Thank you, Sir." I never called him Sir before. He'd always been Charlie to me. However, tonight I felt like I needed to be proper and do this the right way.
"We were just about to sit down for supper. Why don't you join us," he suggested gesturing towards the seat across from Bella at their table.
I sat down glancing over at Bella and flashed her a bright smile. She shied away with a bashful grin on her face. Charlie talked and asked me questions about work all through supper, barely letting me get a word in. I wanted supper to finish up so I could ask to talk to Charlie privately, but it just seemed to go on forever and ever. After we finished eating supper, Renee pulled out a small cake she had made for Bella's birthday.
"Ma, I'm not a little girl anymore. You didn't have to make me a cake," she complained.
"This very well may be the last time I get to make you a birthday cake," she seethed looking over at me in an expectant way. I had to look away to avoid her gaze. After all this time, Renee still scared me.
"Cut that cake up, I'm dying to have a piece," Charlie ordered. Bella was handed the knife and she cut it into slices before passing it out amongst all of us. She looked happy and nervous all the same. I'm pretty sure I probably looked the same way. Our eyes met cautiously as we ate the cake in silence.
"We have a gift for you, Isabella," Renee informed.
"Ma you didn't have to get me anything," she complained once again.
"We most certainly did. You're our only child and it's your eighteenth birthday. We had to get you something very special."
Charlie held out a small package wrapped in brown paper towards her. She took it from his hands with a gracious smile and began to unwrap it. Inside was a set of hair clips with a blue beaded design. They were beautiful and they fit Bella. I couldn't wait to see her wear them.
"They're lovely," she expressed gently brushing her fingers across them. "Thank you both for such a wonderful gift."
"No need to thank us," her father insisted.
"I made something else for you, too," he mother added getting up from her chair and pulling out another package from underneath a dresser in the other room.
Bella smiled jubilantly as she opened up the package. Inside was a beautiful lace veil with intricate embroidery along the hemline. "Oh, Mama," Bella gasped. "It's breathtaking."
"It's the same veil I wore when I married your father. I added the embroidery, which I might add took me well over a year to finish. I'm not an expert seamstress, but I wanted to give you something."
"I love it, Mama," Bella cried getting up from her chair and hugging her mother tightly.
After wiping her tears and gently fingering the lace veil, Bella, along with Charlie and Renee, looked over at me expectantly. I cleared my throat nervously and squirmed in my chair. I wondered if I should just offer her the ring right here and now. It's obviously what they were all waiting for me to do. However, my mother's words kept playing over in my head about asking Charlie for permission first. I had to ask him.
"I have a gift for you. It's outside," I informed. "It's a little heavy, though. Could I get you to help me with it, Charlie?"
"Of course, Son." He stood from his chair and followed me out. I glanced back at Bella briefly before stepping out into the darkness of the night, and I saw the confused and hurt look in her face. Renee reached out and rubbed her shoulder to comfort her. I felt horrible for what I did, but I would never hear the end of it if I didn't ask Charlie first.
"So, where's this gift you have for Bella?" Charlie asked.
"It's actually not that heavy," I informed.
He chuckled. "I didn't think it was."
"I have it right here on my horse," I said removing the straps and pulling the long box off. Charlie stared at me with the same confused expression Bella had.
"Oh," he expressed disappointedly.
"Sir," I began so nervously my voice cracked and my hands shook. "I actually have two gifts for her. But I kind of wanted to ask you first if it would be alright to give it to her."
"Edward, quit beatin' the devil around the stump and ask my daughter to marry you," he demanded.
I sighed almost relieved I didn't have to say the words myself. "I plan to… I mean I want to. I just need your permission first."
"You have it, Edward. You've always had it. There's no one else I'd rather give my daughter to than you. I would have given her to you years ago if you would have been game enough to ask."
"I was told I had to wait until she turned eighteen," I explained while we leaned against the fence post to discuss the proposal.
"Well who gave you the silly idea you had to wait until she was eighteen?" he questioned with a bite to his words.
"She did," I answered with a chuckle. "I asked her nonchalantly months ago if she would marry me and she refused to give me an answer until she turned eighteen."
He had a proud smile on his face while he nodded his head appreciatively. "That's definitely my daughter in there. I hope you know what you're getting yourself into."
"I do. I love her, Sir."
"I know you do. And I'm right proud to give my one and only daughter to such a deserving man."
"Thank you," I accepted with a huge sigh of relief. We shook hands firmly sealing the deal.
"Do you have a ring to offer my daughter?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir, I do. My ma gave me her wedding ring to give to Bella," I replied.
"I'm sure Elizabeth will be very happy to see that ring on my Isabella's hand," he theorized.
I smiled and nodded my head. "She said almost the same thing."
"You have so much of your father in you, but you definitely have your mother's heart," he observed while his eyes studied me. "Well, I'll go get Isabella and send her out here to you. Are you ready, Son?"
I took another deep breath, letting it out slowly and nodded my head. He patted me on the back encouragingly and walked back towards the house. I decided to go into the barn and light the lantern so we at least had a little light. I held the larger package in my hands contemplating if I should give it to her at all. Maybe I should wait to give her that gift. Maybe it was inappropriate for right now.
I heard her walk in a few moments later looking around for me. "Edward?" she called out.
"I'm over here," I called back. She walked through the barn and over where the lantern was placed against the wall. She tried to fight the apparent smile that was on her face. She walked closer, giving me a simple kiss on the lips and wrapped her arms around my neck.
"I've missed you. It's been a few days since you've come to visit me."
I wrapped my arms around her waist and rubbed my nose against hers playfully. "I've missed you too. I couldn't wait until today to see you."
"You couldn't?" she asked grinning up at me.
"Nope, and I'm glad this day finally came."
"Would you like your birthday present now?" I asked stepping away from her. She nodded her head and grinned from ear to ear. Suddenly losing my courage, I stepped around the corner and grabbed the large package, carrying it back to her. She looked at it strangely while she began to unwrap it. Inside was a rifle she's been eyeing for months in the local mercantile.
"You bought me the gun I'd been admiring?" she asked excitedly. "Edward, this is amazing. I can't believe you bought me a gun."
"Well, I figured you're eighteen now, you can go out shooting without anyone telling you it's not appropriate," I explained. She placed it against the siding of the barn and threw herself into my arms.
"Thank you, so much. It's absolutely perfect and exactly what I wanted. You are the only person who truly knows me," she cried into the crook of my neck. "I love you, Edward."
"I love you, too," I whispered back.
She slipped out of my arms and stared up at me in the dim light of the barn. "Now, are you ever going to ask me to marry you?"
"Bella," I whined taking a few steps away from her.
"You always have to go first, don't you?"
"I wasn't trying to go first," she assured following behind me and placing her hand on my shoulder blade. "I've just been waiting a long time for today and it's finally here, but you aren't asking. Are you going to ask?" I turned around, towards her concerned stricken face and traced a line along her cheekbone with my finger.
"Of course I am. I was just waiting for the right moment."
"You know if you keep waiting for these right moments to appear I'm always going to go first. I'm not a patient person."
"Really?" I questioned playfully while wrapping my arms around her waist. "Then why did you make me wait until you were eighteen to ask you if you aren't a patient person?"
"Waiting to marry you didn't have anything to do with being patient. It had to do with when I felt like I was ready to become a wife to the sheriff. It's a huge roll to fill, you know? I don't want anyone to look at me as a woman who can't take care of her husband, who is one of the most powerful men in our town. I needed to prepare myself."
"You didn't need to do anything, Bella. I don't need you to take care of me. I want to be the one to take care of you," I insisted holding her tighter in my arms.
She shook her head. "A marriage is a partnership. I'm not going to let you take care of me without doing the same for you."
"Then, let me ask, are you ready now?" I questioned.
She smiled sweetly and blushed lightly. "Well, I don't know. No one has asked me to marry them yet."
I chuckled and shook my head. I released my arms from around her and pulled the ring out of my pocket before kneeling to one knee. "Isabella Swan, will you finally marry me and make me the happiest man on earth?"
"Yes," she answered indubitably. I smiled with relief washing over me and stood to my feet to take her into my arms and swing her around excitedly. She squealed with excitement, holding onto my neck tightly.
"This is your mother's ring, isn't it?" she asked after I placed her back on the ground and slipped the ring onto her finger.
"Yes, it is. She gave it to me earlier to give to you. I had planned to ask you to marry me using the gun as a gift. I know you don't care much for jewelry and I wanted to give you something you would actually want. I thought the gun would be a great engagement gift. However, everyone insisted I needed to present you with a ring and not just a gift."
"I would have said yes, even if you only gave me the gun," she informed bashfully. She laughed and ducked her head slightly once again. "I would have said yes, even if you didn't give me anything at all."
"I figured you would," I laughed.
"I have to admit, the rifle is probably the best gift I've ever been given since Daisy." She picked up the gun again and examined it in her hands with a completely content look on her face.
"You didn't like the ring?" I asked.
"No, it's not that. I love the ring and I'm proud to be wearing such a wonderful family heirloom. I just love the gun. I want to go shoot it now. It's the most beautiful rifle I've ever seen."
"I think we should probably wait until it's light out and after our parents hear the good news. I'm sure the whole town is going to be excited to find out about our engagement."
"When are we going to get married?" she asked. "I want it to be as soon as possible. I want to be with you every single day for the rest of my life."
I brought her back into my arms taking the gun from her hands and placing against the wall. "I want the same. My mother and father married the day after they met. We can go talk to the preacher tomorrow if you want."
"I would like that. I think the whole town is waiting for us to be married anyway. We should just get it over with. I can wear my Sunday dress and my ma just gave me that beautiful veil. We don't need anything else. We're all set."
"We are," I agreed excitedly. "I already have our house built and set up… for the most part anyway. You can still put your own womanly touches in it. But it is a roof over our heads and it's all ours."
"Let's do it," she agreed. I kissed her passionately from the fill of excitement. It was probably the most passionate kiss I'd ever given her. I never let our intimacy go very far but in that moment it felt right. My hands ventured up her back and over her shoulders down her chest taking a chance at touching her in places I'd only dreamed of.
When she finally did pull away, I realized I may have gone a little too far because she had a look of almost fear on her face. "I'm sorry," I whispered.
"Don't be. I was just a little caught off guard. I have to get over my fears soon enough if I'm going to be a wife and someday hopefully a mother to your children."
I grinned at the thought of my Bella holding our baby in her arms. I couldn't wait to be a father. "There's no rush, though," I assured. "We can take things slowly."
She nodded her head appreciatively of my offer. As much as I wanted to be with her intimately like a husband and wife would, I was probably just as nervous as she was of the thought. I kissed her tenderly on the forehead before taking her in the crook of my arm and walked her back towards her house. I wished her goodnight and assured her I would be back first thing in the morning to take her to talk to the preacher. I wished Charlie and Renee a good night and headed out into the dark towards home.
When I got home my ma was more excited than I was with the news. She couldn't wait to see our love sealed with a vow of marriage. I had completely forgotten about telling Bella of the gift my mother had for her so I promised my mother I would bring Bella to the house after we spoke with the preacher.
All that night, I barely slept. I couldn't believe it was actually going to happen now. I was about to marry my Isabella. I was going to marry my best friend, the love of my life, the most amazing woman I'd ever known, and the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth. I really was the luckiest man on earth.
The following day, I quickly did my duties in town and headed out on the wagon to collect Bella for our trip to see the preacher. Of course the preacher was ecstatic about marrying us and said as soon as we were ready he was. After talking to the preacher I explained to Bella about my mother's gift. She felt strange about accepting a gift from my mother, but I explained it was something she needed to get used to. In just a few days she was going to be a part of my family.
When we rode into the yard of my mother's home she was already waiting for us outside. She insisted I wasn't allowed to see this gift, and I had to stay outside while she brought Bella into the house.
I stood outside for well over an hour kicking at the dirt and stacking some firewood by the house for my mother as well as going into the barn and watering the animals. I did anything to beat the time. Finally, Bella came bursting out of the door and ran towards me, crashing into me and knocking me to the ground with a loud grunt.
"Your ma just gave me the most amazing gift, Edward," she cried. All I could do was chuckle at how she so easily knocked me down with her excitement.
"What was this amazing gift?" I asked while I still lay on the ground.
"She made me a wedding gown. It's perfect in every way. It's the most beautiful dress I've ever seen. I can't even imagine wearing such a dress."
I sat us up on the ground and looked over Bella's shoulder at my mother who was standing in the doorway watching us blissfully. "She made you a wedding gown?" I asked in disbelief.
"I've been working on it since the day you came home all those years ago confused about what you were feeling for Isabella. I knew then you would end up marrying her someday, and I wanted her to have the prettiest dress to be wed in. I wanted my only son to have his princess."
I stood to my feet and helped Bella to her feet, wrapping my arm around her shoulders. "She doesn't need a gown to be my princess. She's always been my princess. But thank you, Ma. You have gone above and beyond for me."
"Never above and beyond," she insisted. "You are my son and my life. I would do anything for you and your happiness."
"It's beautiful, Edward. I can't wait to wear it on our wedding day," Bella interrupted. "I think it'll go well with the veil as well. I think my mother may have known about the dress all along and wanted to contribute something special to it."
We both turned towards my mother for an answer. She had a grin on her face. "You didn't think I wouldn't talk to your mother and get permission first, did you? I couldn't step on any toes before I did what I did. Your mother insisted on making the veil if I made the dress. We came to an agreement and began to discuss what we wanted the dress to look like. Renee had a lot of input on what the final product was.
I walked over to my mother and gave her a big hug, thanking her for doing something so wonderful for my bride to be.
That night, Bella and I met with my ma and her parents together to discuss the wedding. We planned to have a ceremony on the upcoming weekend right after the Sunday church service, which was the custom for most couples in our neighborhood. It was the one time the whole community came together and the best time for a get together as important as a wedding.
Our mothers and some of the other women in the community created this huge feast of food for the celebration. For the entire week before the wedding I was taunted by just about every married and single man I knew. They all thought I was a love-sick fool who didn't know what I was getting myself into. They thought it was funny and said I was a softy for getting married to my childhood sweetheart. I wasn't acting much like a tough and manly sheriff. I paid no attention to them, though. If my father could be a legend of a sheriff and a married man, I could too.
After the Sunday church service it was announced we would be getting married and would like everyone to join us for our nuptials. Most everyone stayed and waited to spend the rest of the day celebrating with us. I waited at the end of the aisle nervously, while Bella was at a neighboring home with her mother getting ready.
"You ready, Son," Carlisle asked walking up to me.
"I think so," I answered nervously. He patted me on the back and chuckled.
"I remember the day your mother and father were married. Your father was just as nervous as you are now and had the same exact expression. He knew it was right and your mother was the only one for him, but he was terrified. He didn't even have this large crowd to marry in front of. It was just him, Elizabeth, Charlie and I who were here. However nervous he was though, the minute he saw Elizabeth walking towards him, he had a sudden sense of clarity and calmness come over him. I felt the same thing when I married Esme, and I'm sure every man who has ever married the woman he loves has felt it also. You will too. Enjoy it and don't ever forget this moment in your life. And enjoy tonight," he said patting me on the back and even winking at me.
Suddenly there was a whole new fear that came over me. Our wedding night was about to come. Would I know what to do and how not to hurt her? Would it be awkward or uncomfortable? Would she even want me tonight or would she want to take things slowly? I had told her we could take it slowly. There really was no rush. Maybe it would have been a better idea to see one of those saloon girls to have some experience on what it was I was supposed to do. However, the thought of being with another woman besides my Bella made my stomach turn. We would figure it out somehow. This was a partnership like Bella had said and, as a partnership, we'd learn how to love each other intimately.
"Do you even know what to do tonight, Edward?" Carlisle asked with a small chuckle.
"No," I admitted truthfully.
He shook his head and patted me on the back a few times. "After the wedding is over, you come find me and we'll have a chat," he offered. "It'd probably be better coming from me rather than Charlie considering it's his daughter."
I accepted his offer with a nod before he went back to his seat next to his wife, Esme.
My mother walked through the doors announcing Isabella was ready and on her way. The butterflies in my stomach began to grow and the lightheadedness took over all my senses. That was until I saw my Isabella at the other end of the aisle smiling back at me. She stood there on her father's arm in a cream colored dress with light blue trim. Her mother's veil trailed behind her while the front of it covered her face. Just like Carlisle had said would happen, a sudden sense of calmness washed over me and all that mattered was Bella. This was about us exchanging our vows of love and devotion. This was about us becoming one in a partnership of marriage and unyielding respect for one another for as long as we live.
I'm sure some of you are aware of this but I totally fail at keeping promises. I had planned to have the second part done by now, but unfortunately my kids' schedule got in the way and I'm not quite done yet. It's becoming a lot longer than I planned it to be also (no big surprise there right?). I will have the second have up as soon as I possibly can. Sorry if anyone read this in the compilation and were waiting for the second half. Like I said, I totally fail at keeping promises. :(