Sorry for the long wait.
Love is not the destiny but a journey of lifetime.
It is not how much love we have in the beginning, but how much love we build until the end.
Nishan Panwar. ~
I type as fast as possible, trying to get all my thoughts into this Word document before they escape me. The playlist of the band I'm writing the article on plays in the background. A glance to the left lets me know it's almost two in the morning. I sigh. It figures this is the time for inspiration to strike me.
Having an opinion column in a magazine feels a lot like being a literature author, and my respect for the written word has grown even more. I find myself smiling, because as crazy as it is, and as hectic as it all goes down, I love it and wouldn't change a thing. Not even the whole dynamic at Scratch Magazine of deciding the title of the article first.
After writing the last sentence, I double save the file and browse the internet for a couple of minutes.
Before calling it a night, I read a few interesting articles from my favorite bloggers, and shut down the computer.
I walk slowly towards the bedroom, stretching in the process, knowing that my brain is finally turning off for the night. I collapse face first into the bed.
Just when I'm drifting off, I feel a warm body on top of me.
"Fuck," we both curse. I sit up and turn on the lamp.
"Shit, sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up," he says. I give him the stink eye.
"Wake me? You sat on me," I tell him.
"That's because you're sleeping on my side of the bed," he reminds me with a knowing smirk.
"Well, that's because I miss you," I say reaching up to kiss him.
"I miss you, too," he says and kisses me back.
He lays me down in the center of the bed, caressing every available inch of skin. I lose myself in his touch and then he suddenly stops.
"I'm sorry. I need to shower, and I need to sleep. I also need to go back to the hospital in six hours," he says before rolling off me.
"Go take the shower and get rid of all the germs," I tell him.
"You already touched me. You're all germed up."
"Guess I also need a shower then," I say and we're inside the bathroom and naked in record time.
Long distance relationships are hard.
Long distance relationships while trying to be your own person during your college years are even harder.
Seattle is not the biggest city in the United States, but it was bigger than Forks, and I was star struck. I wanted to go out every night to see everything, to experience everything. My thirst for knowledge and adventure didn't combine well with Edward's focus on his studies or his plans.
His privileged life and opportunities to experience anything and everything made him more centered on his goal. On the other hand, I was struggling—deciding if an English major was actually what I wanted, while being caught up in the bright lights of the city.
Each time I told him about my days, I could feel the judgment in his voice. I could tell how much it bothered him that our college experiences were becoming so different.
After ten months of strained, phone calls, passive-aggressive arguments and tension-filled trips, we broke up.
"We can't do this anymore," he said sighing, and I agreed.
It was the best thing that ever happened to us.
After five months of not talking to each other, I called him to share my excitement about a band we both wanted to see perform live.
It was just a light conversation, and any awkwardness was overshadowed by my screeching voice, and his low, tired laugh. Breaking up with him gave me my best friend back. And just like the magnets we've always been, we found ourselves being a couple again a year after our breakup.
Only this time, we both knew better.
Our time apart helped me make some of the tough decisions I needed to make regarding my career. I even managed to finish earlier than planned. The pent up excitement from the newfound freedom was out of my system.
Edward was still in California, and had a long time to go. It took me less than a week to decide to pack up my bags and go to him as soon as I graduated.
And when I did it, I did it because I wanted to.
I did it because I loved him.
"Is there space open on your very busy agenda for a date with your boyfriend?" Edward asks, sitting down next to me on the couch. He kisses my neck, making me giggle and lose balance of my laptop.
"I don't know," I say, closing the computer and turning my head to him. "Is there open space on the very busy agenda of Dr. Cullen?" I kiss his smiling lips and climb into his lap.
"He might move some things around for you," he says, stopping my kisses to embrace me.
Out of the six years I've been living in California, the first two were the hardest. Edward was starting med school when I got here. He was a slave to his homework, and if it was possible, he seemed to have gotten even paler, given all the time he spent in the labs.
I got bitter, despite my previous knowledge of how things were going to be. We fought a lot, and I questioned my coming here, fearing that our relationship wouldn't survive our second attempt.
Wrapped in his strong arms, I sigh, content that it did. And that it continues to do so.
Edward's still in that phase where he's busy all the time. Residency is kicking his ass with the crazy long shifts, but we're making it work.
He doesn't say so, but I'm sure the fact that his father is well-known in the field comes with its advantages. Even if he doesn't ask for special treatment, sometimes he gets it.
We've also moved closer to the hospital to shorten the time it takes him to get from point A to point B. And the flexibility of my schedule makes it easier for us to spend his free time together. I like to think that we've developed a good system around his crazy schedule.
Today is one of his days off, and I can't wait to see what he's planned. Even tired and dying to sleep, he manages to surprise me with fun nights out.
Well, when I'm not the one doing the surprising.
That vow he made forever ago—about being the kind of couple that has it all—has been accomplished. My job allows us to enjoy some fun events based around concerts, books launching parties, art galleries openings, etc. Yet, some of our best lazy nights have been spent talking, and just enjoying each other's company.
There's also the fact that we've been through a lot. From our innocent childhood days, to our rocky, high school experience, to our rough, long distance relationship… It's taught us not to take each other for granted.
I think we have a good balance.
Some days, I do wonder if we're ever going to move past the hectic lifestyle phase. I'm scared that we've become too comfortable with the way we're living and that we won't evolve.
Edward's kisses on my neck bring me out of my not-so-happy thoughts. If anything, my reaction to his touch never wavers in intensity.
"Don't go wasting your job permits on me," I say, playing with his fingers on my lap. "If we don't fly to Virginia for Peter and Charlotte's wedding we might not live to go out on another date." The thought brings a smile to my face. Peter and Charlotte's relationship has always seemed much more mature than Edward's and mine. After high school, Peter moved to Virginia, and they've been together ever since.
I'm as happy for them as I'm a little envious.
Edward chuckles and tightens his hold on me. His breath is warm on the back of my neck. It makes me shiver. Once again, I'm brought out of my over-thinking tendencies, comforted by his presence.
"Charlotte's wedding? If we don't go to back to Forks soon, your father is going to castrate me. And my mother… well, she might end up killing me," he says. I chuckle, because he might be right.
It's been a while since we went home. We've both tried to get Esme and Charlie to come down to visit us, but they never do. We see Carlisle often, since he takes every opportunity he has to come to a conference in the area.
He usually stays with us.
The first time I saw him and Edward discussing medicine it almost made me cry. The passion that radiated out of the both of them was blinding. I can't believe Edward ever doubted his calling.
"Your mom called yesterday, but you hadn't arrived yet," I say, remembering. Edward nods and kisses my lips once before speaking.
"I talked to her this morning."
I nod back.
Charlie and Esme may never come to visit us, but we talk on an almost daily basis. Even when I was experiencing my college liberation experience, I kept in touch with my dad and visited him as much as I could manage. I never lost focus of the fact that I had gone to Seattle in order to stay close to him.
Our relationship isn't strained anymore. And his tough-love was one of the reasons why I eventually got it together during my sophomore year.
"We do need to get to Forks soon, though," I say, thinking it's been almost a year since I last saw my dad. We're good, but sometimes the guilt of living so far away from him is too much. No matter how many times he has reassured me he's okay with it.
"Maybe you can convince him to start dating again," Edward says. I shake my head. I tried that before going to college and then again before moving to Cali. He went out on a couple of dates both times then declared himself a failure. He won't tell me, but I know he just doesn't see himself falling in love once more.
I stopped pressuring him about it. I understand how epic loves work.
"I just miss him," I say and Edward nods. He looks me in the eyes, understanding. Then his gaze clouds with an emotion I can't put my finger on. I'm about to ask him about it, but he blinks and it's gone. In its place is a pleasant smile.
"We'll see if we can manage to get away for a weekend," he says. "Now go get dressed." He kisses the back of my head before standing up.
I do as he says.
I might be letting my head get the best of me.
"I saw Tanya today," Alice says on the phone while I hunt for my favorite pair of jeans. "I was walking to the airport when I saw her getting out of a town car. She looked as plastic as ever. A bit fat, but definitely like a typical trophy wife," she says.
I locate my jeans and struggle with putting them on while holding my cell phone with one hand.
"Which airport?" I ask, because I always lose track of her traveling schedules even when she sends it to me all the time.
"Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. Come on, Bella I emailed you last week," she says, her voice resigned. "Anyway, you know she's married to that Republican Congressman, right? I forget his name. He wasn't with her."
"Did you talk to her?" I ask, because, well, I'm a bit curious. The last time I saw Tanya was in Seattle. She had been visiting some friends near campus. We didn't acknowledge each other, except for the smirk she gave me when she learned I was single.
Of course I would run into her while struggling with my break-up with Edward. After that, I learned about her engagement and her marriage to a congressman through the grapevine.
"No. It was so weird. I just stared at her because she looked as if she's living the life she wanted. They all are. I just… I just think it isn't fair, considering…" she trails off for my benefit.
"Life isn't fair," I say in a calm voice. I'm not bitter about the Blondie-Bunch's apparent success. I grew out of that.
"No, it's not. But we're all happy, so I guess I can live in a world where Irina and Kate are models, and Tanya is a rich wife as long as you're a successful columnist and Edward's a successful doctor."
"And you're a successful stylist," I remind her, and she squeals in delight.
We say goodbye with promises to reunite soon. Edward walks in just as I finish brushing my hair.
He has his own cell phone in his hand.
"Alice says hi," I say.
"So does Emmett," he says, lifting his phone to my eye level. "Little Ruth has a cold, so of course he's freaking out and thinks I should invent some kind of instant cure for it," he adds.
"Is she going to be okay?" I ask, instantly worried about her.
Edward gives me a small smile and nods.
"Carmen is a terrific mother. Emmett's just a bit too much sometimes," he answers, looking uncomfortable.
I know he's thinking about Rosalie. Emmett's bigger-than-life-personality didn't click well with her in the long run. They tried and failed to be together several times. I know Edward feels guilty about being close friends with his brother's ex-fiancé.
I don't blame him. Rosalie has been a special person in his life.
Emmett has learned to deal with it.
"Are we ready to go?" he asks, back to his normal self.
For the first time tonight, I look at what he's wearing: dark jeans, black shoes and white button down shirt. He looks as handsome as ever.
I'm distracted yet again, by how attractive he is. High school might have ended, but some feelings never do.
I nod and take his hand.
"Where are we going?" I ask, when Edward leads me to an unknown route of our neighborhood a few hours later. He kisses my hand and shakes his head in response. I frown. He's been acting strange all day. His face has been a myriad of indescribable emotions hidden with smiles.
But then again, my mind has been against me for a few days. I don't know what it is, but I have a little voice in the back of my head questioning where Edward and I are going in our lives.
I'm trying not to let it grow because I know I can get lost inside my head. Edward also manages to pull me away from the edge with his love. Still, a part of me feels as if we've been stuck in the same place for a long time.
Edward glances at me out of the corner of his eye every few blocks. He's apprehensive, and I'm scared he might be able to see my thoughts written on my face.
Eventually, we get to what appears to be our destination. Edward lets go of my hand and stays a couple of steps behind me. I feel his body like a fort, protecting me.
It takes me a moment to take it all in, but when I do my eyes water.
"Edward," I say in awe and relief.
He's done it again.
He's pulled me away from the edge.
I'm standing in front of what looks like a replica of the big, green backyard I miss so much. In the center of it is our black and white blanket. Twinkling lights and candles illuminate the scene where I can detect piles of old books, different music players and earphones, as well as a picnic basket.
I sprint to the blanket, fingering the books I know and love. The titles I read bring back so many memories that I can't help but smile. I lower myself to the ground feeling a thousand times younger, transported to a different time and place.
"How in the world did you do this?" I ask Edward, meeting his bright eyes. He shrugs and smiles, before sitting down next to me. He rummages around between the pages of a book until he finds a scrap of paper. He gives it to me. I hold it carefully in my hands and study it. It's old and wrinkled. I can't read what it says.
I search Edward's eyes again, wanting him to explain to me what it is.
"On that piece of paper, we agreed on our first, backyard meeting a long time ago," he says, staring at me. "It was during our last class of the day. You were almost caught handing it back to me, so I hid it inside my sweater. I forgot about it until I got home, and it fell out. I saved it in a shoebox. It was the first one of many."
He holds my hands in between his before taking a deep breath. My heart hammers in my chest because not only am I hearing this for the first time, but also because I think I know where this is going.
"Oh God," I breathe and he chuckles, squeezing my hands once more before he talks again.
"I didn't know it then, but I fell in love with you in that backyard, talking about books and music. I listened to you talk, and you drew me in. You coaxed my love for these things without me realizing it. I wanted to take you back there, but you know free time is not out forte right now." He shakes his head, and I chuckle, as happy, silent tears run down my face.
"I remember… the first time you shared your lunch with me: strawberry Pop Tart. I still have the ugly shirt you gave me for my eleventh birthday, and the hat you knitted for me one Christmas. Every book, every CD, shirt, music sheets… I have them all. Some are back in Forks, and others are in our living room and in our closet. Some are hidden in the basement in a box because I tried to get rid of them when we broke up."
He grimaces at the end of that sentence, and I tighten my hold on his hand.
"I have our history all around me because it reminds me how lucky I am to have you in my life. And it helps me remember how much more we still have to go, how much more time we still can have together.
I know you.
I know your Starbucks order, and your laptop password.
I know your favorite position to sleep hasn't changed in all the time we've known each other.
I know you hate the noise I make when I eat cereal, but that you let it go.
I know how you got those scars on your elbow and the one on your right knee.
I know the way you sigh my name when I'm inside you and the sounds you make when you come. And the thing is, I know all of that and you still manage to surprise me. And I know you a bit more every day, and every bit of you I know, I learn to love.
So, please marry me, Bella, because I'm not done knowing you, and I don't ever want to be."
I laugh, cry, and nod all at once.
He wraps his arms around me and chuckles.
"You'll marry me?" he asks, and kisses my forehead.
"Yes, I'll marry you. I love you," I say, searching his lips.
He kisses me for a second and then fishes a ring out from his pocket. He slides the ring down my shaky finger with a huge smile on his face. I'm grinning and crying, convinced that I must be dreaming.
The significance of the moment overwhelms me.
After all these years—after all the things we've been through. After being the cliché girl in love with her best friend.
I want to go back in time to my teenage self and shake her, tell her that it's going to work out. That I didn't need to spend so many nights losing sleep, or waste so much time trying to fit in.
But then, I look at Edward's green eyes, and I don't want to change anything, because it has all led to this.
"I write for a living, but I have no words to express my feelings. I want to say so many things, just like you did, yet I'm coming up short. Nothing I say will be adequate enough," I tell him, sniffing for good measure.
He laughs and gently wipes the tears off my face.
"You said yes. That's good enough."
We announce it to our friends and family in parts: first Carlisle, Esme, and Charlie—who already knew because Edward actually asked for his blessing. Then we call a Skype conference with Alice, Emmett, Peter and Charlotte.
Announcing the news to Alice with other people was a mistake. No one was able to get a word in once she started talking.
Peter and Emmett both texted me their warm wishes after we disconnected the call.
Afterward, we told our co-workers and the friends we've made in California. Everyone had nothing but kind words to say.
Once everyone knows, the pressure to decide things begins to take its toll on me. I have to plan a wedding. I have to set a date, pick a location, pick out a dress, a theme for decorations … the list goes on and on, without end.
Edward—who I'm convinced is looking to be canonized—takes it all in stride and reminds me that I'm not alone.
We have to set a date.
We have to pick a location.
He understands that there are things that I'll be doing alone, but he promised to be there and not let me turn the experience into a stress inducer.
He said I'm not the kind of person who would turn into bridezilla, and that he took pride in that.
Sometimes, he feels unreal, as if he's part of another world.
I got way too lucky with him.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" he asks.
I smile, watching him while he towel-dries his hair. He's wearing nothing but his pajama pants, and I've been staring at him since he got out of the bathroom.
"I love you," I say, gesturing to the pile of papers around me.
He grins and joins me in the bed. He kisses my neck several times before I reach for him to kiss his lips.
Before I know it, papers are falling, and mixing with our clothes on the floor.
Everything about our lovemaking feels unrushed but passionate.
"I love you, too," he says while inside me, hiding his face between my neck and shoulder.
I sigh, unable to respond. I'm overwhelmed with love and gratitude, because no matter how many times he has said it, it never stops feeling real.
After we're done taking and giving pleasure with our bodies, we lie naked on the bed holding each other.
We spend some time talking about our future and reminiscing about our past.
Friends turned lovers back and forth until we evolved seamlessly into what we are now.
I fall asleep with a smile on my face, sated and content.
In less than six months, I'll be marrying the love of my life, my high school sweetheart, my best friend.
It just doesn't get any better than this.
Long note ahead...
I'm so sorry for the amount of time it took me to post this. No excuses, just wanted to apologize.
First of all, thank you so much to everyone reading this. Thank you for allowing me to play with my words. It's a blessing to have people who have been with me on this ride. Thank you for your support. I hope you enjoyed this.
Shout out to: Yuliana, Bruja, Teppy, and Heidy. :)
Thank you to Believeitornott for your feedback with the epi. I struggled a lot with this and you helped me get some confidence back. I won't forget your help and kind words. (If you haven't read her stories, go now!)
To Sunflower Fanfiction, you jumped ahead to help me with this little story and have become a permanent beta to all of my work. I'm so happy you did. Thank you so much for putting up with me. I have nothing but respect and affection for you. (I still hate semi colons, though)
Last but not least, to Damarys. You've been more than my LovelyEditor. You've been an incredible friend and I thank God every day for placing you in the same class as me our first day in college. Thank you for believing in me, for helping with the quotes, the names, the tiny things that shouldn't matter, my paranoia, my usual use of the word "hate", for everything you do and have done for me or for my stories, thank you. I love you.
Thank you all so much.
PS: My next story Stripped Desire is on the works. I plan to upload at some point the next month or so. Be on the look out for that.