=MISTLETOE AND YOU=
Paulie smiled proudly. She had just finished her first piano recital, and as she bowed in front of the audience, she could see her dad applaud wildly. It was he, after all, who had introduced her to the piano seven years ago.
Mr. Cope, her piano teacher, had been telling her all the time that she was incredibly talented, but it wasn't until now that Paulie truly believed him.
Both of her parents wore big smiles on their faces, and Paulie couldn't help but grin happily.
Her mom made little Larry wave his small hand. Pauie's two-year-old brother didn't really know what he was doing, but he grinned all the same, and Paulie loved him even more for it.
Lucy and Alice were almost bouncing in their seats, Jasper merely smiling at his wife's exuberance. She looked funny, her baby belly seeming almost too big on the tiny woman who was cheering wildly for her niece.
Bella turned toward Edward, who slid one arm around his wife's waist as he kissed Larry's head. Her eyes were teary.
"She was brilliant…"
"Yes, she was," Edward murmured. "But then, she's our daughter. She can't help it."
"Pshh," Bella said, fussing with Larry's shoe.
"Mmm, you know that I'm right, love." He kissed her temple. "Because you are perfect," he whispered into her ear, his warm breath making all the hairs on Bella's arms stand up.
"You're being silly," she said, settling Larry on her hip and grabbing Edward's hand as they got up and walked toward the foyer of Paulie's music school.
"I'm right," he grinned, suppressing the desire to grab Bella's delectable behind. "And I will prove it to you…" he whispered into her ear, causing her to shudder. "Later… tonight…"
Edward was very close by now, and it encouraged Larry to put his small hand on his dad's ear, creating a break in his parents' exchange.
Conversation was lively as families and teachers gathered in the foyer of Paulie's school. Edward didn't make much of it when his wife asked him to take Larry, who was getting a little cranky. He also didn't question the fact that she needed to go to the bathroom three times in a relatively short period.
Lucy was aware of the fact that Bella had been behaving oddly for a couple of weeks, and she had tried to alert Paulie to the fact, but Paulie had merely suggested that her mom might be stressed over her finals at college.
At the age of thirty-five, Bella had finally earned her Masters in English and was currently submitting applications, doing job interviews and writing an essay on Jane Austen.
The whole family came to have dinner at Edward and Bella's new home, and everyone was conversing happily, laughing and enjoying their food. Edward's parents, Esme and Carlisle, were there, along with Charlie and his new wife, Sue. Jasper had a contented look on his face as he leaned over to kiss Alice, who was giggling and whispering with Paulie, while Lucy was watching Bella like a hawk, noting every time she left the table and went in the direction of the bathroom.
After they had eaten dessert, everyone gathered in the living room. No one noticed that Edward and Bella had disappeared momentarily, since Emmett kept everyone laughing with his Christmas speech.
Lucy's ears perked up when her parents rejoined them, her dad's arm wrapped closely around Bella's waist, his fingers splayed almost to the point where they reached her abdomen.
She wasn't surprised when Edward raised his voice to announce some wonderful news. After all, the Christmas season had always been a good one, and, once everybody had congratulated them, she merely grinned and rolled her eyes when she saw her sentimental parents kiss under the mistletoe.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews, you made me very, very happy. I'm glad so many of you enjoyed my story, as it is very close to my heart.
I wish each and every one of you a happy 2012!