A/N: Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! This was my contribution for Breath-of-Twilight's 2011 Countdown! I had so much fun doing this! I hope you enjoy reading it! :)
Thanks to my awesome beta Clarisa! She does great work!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or these characters - you all know who does. Also don't own the lyrics - no copyright infringement intended!
Elves on Shelves
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
It had been looking like Christmas since November first. Bella was annoyed with the Christmas music that she heard daily with no option to change the station. It seemed like the mall started the holiday music earlier every year.
Everywhere you go.
"Argh," Bella grunted as she exited the stock room at The Hallmark Store where she worked for the holiday season. "I'm sick to death of this Christmas music," she mumbled to herself.
Take a look at the five and ten.
Bella hated her seasonal job, but since college was so far from home during the holiday season, she had to do something to keep herself busy. Plus the extra money was great even though she felt like death by the time December twenty-fifth hit.
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
There was another major reason that she'd taken the job at The Hallmark Store every holiday season for the past three years. A certain boy named Edward Cullen caught her eye during her freshman year. He worked at the As Seen on TV kiosk right outside the entrance of The Hallmark Store. He was gorgeous with brown hair and piercing green eyes. He was tall, at least six foot with a lean physique. Bella found herself drooling over him several times throughout the holiday season. Frequently he worked the same shifts she did and for that, she was grateful. They'd spoken several times before when things were slow in the store. She'd stand right outside the entrance and discuss the mall patrons or the weather. He flirted shamelessly with her, but she was always too nervous to reciprocate.
But the prettiest sight to see…
This year Bella vowed to do something about the attraction she felt for him.
Is the holly that will be…
She was prepared to go to any length to secure at least one date with him
On your own front door.
Operation Edward Cullen was in full swing and it was all beginning tonight with her friends Alice and Rosalie and their chamber of beauty. The chamber of beauty was really just Rosalie's enormous bedroom at her parent's house.
Bella was thankful to have met Alice and Rosalie during her second semester in college. Rosalie lived at home off campus, but Alice ended up being her dorm mate during her second semester. They were both beautiful and outspoken, but not overly so. Bella couldn't have asked for better friends.
There were two weeks until the holiday season ended and Bella wanted to look and feel her best for the remaining days she had with Edward. She rarely saw him at school, but when she did, he was always surrounded by a group of friends. She was too intimidated to approach him in that setting. So she vowed that before Christmas Eve she would ask him out.
Part of working at The Hallmark Store during the holiday season meant moving The Elf on the Shelf daily. This was something she immensely enjoyed about her job. She found the craziest positions to put that elf in and she enjoyed watching children run around the store trying to find him. There was a little story that came with the elf stating that Santa sent elves into homes of children and the elves would watch them during the holiday season to make sure they were being good. The adults were supposed to move the elf every night so the kids would know that the elf was real. Hallmark had come out with an ingenious item and Bella was sure that she'd be purchasing one once she had kids.
Edward frequently came into the store during his breaks to see if he could spot where the elf was as well. The store even held a special contest for kids – they had to come in and find the elf and then fill out a contest entry card. On Christmas Eve, one of the employees picked a card from the entry box and that child won a twenty-five dollar gift card to Toys 'R Us. Edward mentioned several times that he wished the contest was for adults too because he could use a gift card for Toys 'R Us to buy some new video games. Bella just rolled her eyes and laughed at him.
"Where is he today?" Edward asked, sauntering into the store as Bella grumbled further about the Christmas music.
"Huh?" she said distractedly.
"The elf," Edward huffed.
"Oh, you'll have to find him. You know the rules," Bella chastised with half of a laugh.
"You okay?" he asked Bella studying her closely.
"Yeah," she sighed, "I'm just sick of this Christmas music."
He laughed loudly and nodded his head. "I'm going to find the elf," he murmured. Bella nodded and retreated to the stock room to retrieve a box of Keepsake ornaments.
"Son of a…" she trailed off as she stood on her tiptoes trying to reach the box of ornaments. She huffed and looked around for the step stool, but couldn't find it.
"Need help?" Mike, the other college student that worked with her during the holidays, asked as he walked into the back room.
"Yeah, I can't get that box," she said pointing at the offending object and stepping out of his way. She didn't like working with Mike. He was a little too friendly and always snuck up on Bella when she was least expecting it. She felt that every time she turned around, Mike was right there and he definitely invaded her personal space.
Mike pulled the box down with ease and carried it out of the stock room and onto the sales floor. He set it in front of the Keepsake display then turned as if he was going to walk away. Bella bent down to open the box and startled when she felt a hand on her ass.
"Don't," Bella spat at Mike while rising to her full height.
"Oh…uh…sorry," Mike said with a grin. "So I was wondering," he started with an overconfident air about him, "if you'd go out with me tonight."
"Uh…" Bella muttered, but before she could say another word, Edward interrupted their conversation.
"She can't," he snapped. "She has plans with me tonight."
"What?" Mike growled and glared at Edward. "She does not," he said.
"Yeah, actually I do," Bella finally spoke. "We're going to see a movie after we close."
"So keep your hands to yourself," Edward snarled, moving to stand beside Bella. He placed his hand at the small of her back and narrowed his eyes at Mike.
Bella stood dumbfounded at the events that had just unfolded. The heat radiating from Edward's hand spread through her like a wildfire. She couldn't believe that he was actually touching her.
"Whatever," Mike murmured while walking away from them.
"We probably should go and actually see a movie after work so he doesn't suspect that we're lying," Edward whispered into Bella's ear. She shivered as his lips made contact with her skin. He'd always been flirtatious, but never this outwardly demonstrative about it.
"O…okay," Bella stammered.
"Good; I'll see you in an hour or so then." He winked and moved towards the front of the store. "Oh," he yelled, looking back at Bella, "great hiding place." He chuckled and exited the store.
"I didn't know you and Cullen were dating," Mike mumbled as he moved through the aisle where Bella was working. She shrugged, but didn't offer any verbal response.
Bella's mind wandered while she arranged the ornaments from the box. She slowly came to the realization that Edward had inadvertently asked her out on a date. The butterflies erupted in her stomach soon after that fact set in. She wasn't sure if she was ready for a date with him. Even though she vowed to procure a date with Edward before Christmas Eve, she wanted it to be on her terms. Although now he'd taken the nervousness and anticipation out of having to actually ask him out.
"He's an ass," Mike said harshly.
"No he's not," Bella sighed.
"He is, but I'm not going to argue with you about it. You'll find out for yourself soon enough and then you'll come crawling back to me," he said assuredly.
Bella wrinkled her nose and stuck her head further in the box so Mike wouldn't see her expression. She wished he'd just go away.
Time seemed to fly by as Mike announced that the store was closing and Bella ran around straightening the shelves so they could leave on time.
"I'm out, Swan. You okay to lock up?" Mike asked, walking through the store putting on his jacket.
"Mike," she whined, "you know I have a date."
"Cullen can wait," he snarled, walking out the front of the store and lowering the gate behind him. She was livid. Now she'd have to count the till and run the closing reports before she could leave.
She hurried to the front of the store and popped open the register.
"Hey, Bella," Edward called from the other side of the gate.
"Hi," she grimaced. "I'm going to be a little bit. Mike left me here to close up and I still have to count the drawer and run the reports for the night."
"I anticipated he'd pull a douchebag move like that," Edward chuckled. "So I got us tickets for that new vampire movie, but it doesn't start for another forty-five minutes. We've got plenty of time."
Bella smiled widely at how considerate Edward was. She ran to the gate and lifted it so Edward could duck under and enter the dimly lit store. Edward grinned and winked as he moved through the store towards the counter where the register was located. Bella followed close behind and continued her closing duties.
Twenty minutes later Bella had completed closing the store and was accompanying Edward through the mall towards the cinema.
"There he is." Edward nodded towards the left entrance of the movie theater. Bella glanced over and saw Mike standing next to a tall potted plant, peering at them through the leaves. Bella gasped and Edward grabbed her hand, pulling her along towards where Mike was standing.
"Play along," Edward whispered into Bella's ear as they neared Mike's location.
"I really want to see this movie so we won't be able to make-out like we usually do," Edward said quietly, but loud enough for Mike to hear their conversation.
"Darn," Bella said, holding back laughter, wondering where Edward was trying to take the conversation.
"So I guess I'll just have to do this now," Edward murmured then cupped Bella's cheeks pulling her closer to him. He gently feathered his lips against hers with the slightest pressure, causing Bella to sigh contentedly. Slowly, he sucked her bottom lip into his mouth and nibbled. Bella moaned quietly and melted further into the kiss.
Edward pulled away, leaving Bella whimpering. His fingers caressed her face as her eyes opened to see his grinning face.
"I think we convinced him," Edward whispered.
"Who?" Bella asked, still gazing at Edward in a daze.
"Mike," Edward smirked and pressed a kiss to Bella's forehead.
"Oh." Bella shook her head and looked over towards the plant that Mike had been hiding behind. He was no longer there, but she was certain that Edward was correct in his assumption that they'd convinced him with their display. Bella was still feeling lightheaded.
"Let's go watch the movie," Edward said and grabbed Bella's hand, dragging her into the theater. Bella followed him, still trying to process the feeling of his lips against hers.
Bella's phone chirped with an incoming text. She jumped at the noise and snatched the phone from her purse.
Are you ready for Operation Edward Cullen? ~R
Bella blushed, her eyes darting up towards Edward's guiltily.
"What's got you blushing?" he chuckled and grabbed for her phone. She squeaked and scrambled away from him.
"Nothing," she said quietly and tapped out a reply to Rosalie.
No need. He asked me out already. We are at the movies now. Will call later with details. ~B
"I'll let it slide this time." He winked and approached the concession stand. "Next time though, I'll get the phone and find out exactly what makes your cheeks turn that pretty pink color," he said directly into her ear, causing electrifying chills to race down her spine. His hand found its spot at the small of her back as he ushered her forward in line.
After ten minutes of debating between Junior Mints and Sour Patch Kids, Bella and Edward had finally made their snack selections, hurrying to the theater so they didn't miss any previews.
"I don't understand why people hate previews so much," Bella stated, stealing some candy from Edward's box.
"My candy," Edward growled playfully. Bella arched an eyebrow and grabbed another piece in defiance, popping it into her mouth and chewing slowly. A satisfied smile spread across her face as Edward stared longingly at her enticing mouth. Before Bella could reply with a witty retort, Edward's mouth was on hers again. The feeling she couldn't process before had returned. It started as a tingle in her belly and moved fluidly throughout her body.
Slow and sensual pressure was shared between the two as Bella's tongue slipped out slightly. Edward groaned from the back of his throat and immediately opened up for her. Heat spread in the small space between their bodies, igniting their passion further.
"We're missing the previews," Edward spoke against Bella's lips. She giggled quietly, opening her eyes to stare into pools of green shining back at her. Their eyes locked and Bella's stomach flipped. She felt as though Edward could see straight into her soul. Time seemed to stand still as their breathing slowed.
"You're so beautiful," Edward murmured against her lips, popping their bubble.
"Thank you," Bella whispered and closed her eyes as he pressed his lips against hers again. She was certain that she would never tire of feeling that tingling sensation against her skin.
"The movie is starting," Bella pointed out, pulling away from Edward for some much needed oxygen. Her mouth immediately protested. The tingling started to subside, slowly pushing Bella to move closer to Edward. Conveniently, the armrests between the seats lifted into an upright position, which provided a very cozy area for two people.
Edward wrapped his arm around Bella's shoulders and pulled her into him. She snuggled into his side, breathing in the unique scent that solely belonged to Edward.
The movie ended much too quickly for Bella's comfort. She didn't want to say goodbye to Edward just yet. She was certain that the night could go on forever and she'd be content to stay with Edward for that long.
"Would it be too forward of me to say that I'm not ready to let you go yet?" Edward asked sheepishly.
"Absolutely not," Bella laughed. "I was just thinking the same thing."
"Well since I'm being forward, will you come back to my apartment with me?"
Bella bit her lip in contemplation. She wasn't sure that going to Edward's apartment was such a great idea, but since it was late, their options were limited and she didn't want to bring him back to her dorm.
"Do you have some sweats I could put on? I'm sick of these work clothes," Bella said through a giggle.
"I think I can find something for you," Edward grinned and led her to the parking lot. "You want to follow me or leave your car here?"
"I'll follow you," Bella offered. Edward nodded with a half smile and raced to his car.
Bella happily followed him across town, content with the events of the evening so far. She'd always wondered what Edward's apartment looked like. Edward pulled into a parking lot next to a large building with Bella following closely behind him.
"Will I get towed if I park here?" Bella asked as Edward opened her car door.
"No, each tenant can have one guest. I just have to give your license plate number to the security guard in the lobby," he replied, pulling a pen and a piece of paper from his pocket and scribbling down her license plate number.
"Okay," Bella said softly and smiled up at Edward. He slid his fingers through hers and led her into the lobby. Edward gave a slip of paper to an older gentleman standing behind a desk in the foyer and they were soon in the elevator heading up to the fourth floor.
"This is me," Edward said, unlocking the door to apartment number four hundred and thirteen.
"Nice," Bella commented as Edward ushered her into his space. The apartment was an open concept with one bedroom. The colors were muted and natural with dark wood grains abounding throughout the furniture and flooring.
"Thanks," Edward replied, kicking off his shoes. "Can I get you a drink?"
"Sure, water would be good," Bella said, removing her shoes as well and glancing around.
"Make yourself at home," Edward said, handing Bella a bottle of water. "I'm going to grab some sweats for you to change into. Why don't you find a movie for us to watch?" he asked pointing to a cabinet next to the television.
"Okay." Bella nodded and watched as Edward disappeared into a door off the living room.
She barely had a chance to find a movie before Edward was back with a soft pair of plaid flannel pants and a hooded sweatshirt, showing her to the bathroom. Bella changed quickly, taking a few seconds to bask in the wonderful scent wafting from Edward's clothes. She folded her outfit carefully and carried it out of the bathroom with her. She felt comfortable in Edward's apartment and his presence, and it showed as she cuddled on the couch next to him in his clothes.
"Movie time?" Edward asked.
"Sure," Bella said with a yawn. "Do you work tomorrow?"
"No, do you?"
"Good," he whispered, sweeping her hair back from her face and placing feather light kisses across her cheek.
"Do you know how long I've imagined this exact scenario?" he asked against her skin.
"You…you have?" she stammered, looking up at him.
"I have, Bella. For three years, I've wanted to ask you out, but I wasn't sure if you even liked me. I've always tried to flirt with you, but you've never reciprocated."
"I was always too nervous," Bella admitted. "I've wanted to approach you many times on campus, but you're always with a large group of people. I was so intimidated."
"You would fit right in with my friends," Edward whispered, pressing his lips against Bella's.
"Alice and Rose already like you," Bella admitted.
"Are they your only friends?" he asked, caressing her neck with his lips.
"They're my best friends. I have other friends, but they're more acquaintances than anything."
"I know what you mean," he replied.
Bella breathed deeply and opened her eyes. Across the room was floor to ceiling shelving that held books and music, but there was one item sitting in the middle of the shelf that made Bella gasp.
"You have an elf?" Bella screeched, jumping from the couch to grab the little guy she was so familiar with. She looked to Edward for answers and giggled as his cheeks heated up.
"I bought him one day when you weren't working. He reminds me of you," Edward said quietly, looking at the floor rather than into Bella's eyes.
"That's nothing to be embarrassed about," she scolded and returned to her position next to Edward. "I think it's sweet," she whispered and kissed his lips gently.
"He makes me think of you in not so innocent ways," Edward admitted awkwardly.
Bella laughed loudly and slapped Edward's shoulder playfully.
"I can't believe I just said that," Edward whimpered, running his hands through his hair roughly.
"It's okay. It's kind of nice knowing that you think of me in not so innocent ways."
"Really?" he asked, unsure if Bella was being truthful or not.
"It turns me on," she whispered, avoiding Edward's eyes.
"Fuck," he muttered and pulled her onto his lap. Brusquely, their lips collided. Bella moaned setting off a chain reaction between the two, which had their clothes shed in record time. Edward lifted and carried Bella effortlessly to his bedroom.
"God, you're so beautiful," Edward spoke against the skin of her breasts. "I never thought I'd be with you like this, Bella."
She moaned and ran her hands through his silky, soft hair, gently pulling him towards her. Their lips fused together effortlessly as if they'd been doing this for years. Their bodies moved fluidly and so in sync, it was as if they were made for each other.
"I never thought I'd be with you like this either," Bella said breathlessly as Edward's mouth caressed the skin covering her collarbones.
"So many times," he murmured against her skin, "I've pictured this…so many times."
"You have no idea," she responded, followed closely by a whimpering moan as he entered her slowly.
"You feel amazing," he panted against her puckered nipple.
"Better than I could have ever imagined," she breathed, arching herself into him.
Their bodies collided as the room erupted with groans and grunting, unintelligible words. Blissful, heavy panting accompanied cries of pleasure from the two lovers followed by a calming silence.
"You've imagined me?" Edward asked, his breathing still somewhat stuttered.
"I have," she replied with a smirking kiss against the skin of his abdomen. Edward ran his fingers through her hair enticing a contented sigh from Bella's lips.
"For how long?" he asked.
"Three years," she admitted quietly.
He chuckled softly and nudged her face towards his. "I should have asked you out sooner."
"No, I should have asked you out sooner," she countered playfully.
"It took everything I had in me to talk to you at work."
"What?" Bella gasped. "How could you be nervous to talk to me?"
"It wasn't really that I was nervous…like I said you never really flirted back so I wasn't sure how you felt. You're beautiful and confident. I see you on campus frequently as well, but I've always shied away from approaching you."
"I don't think I'm confident," she added.
"You are, Bella. You're gorgeous and I don't think you even know how much attention you garner. Do you know there are a group of teenage boys that come into The Hallmark Store specifically because you work there?"
"They do not," she gasped again, knowing exactly which boys Edward was talking about. "They're trying to win that gift card."
"Yeah and they only come in when you're there. They stop and talk to me and have asked me loads of questions about you. The tall one thinks he has a shot with you since he's graduating this year," Edward laughed.
Bella bit the corner of her lip, her eyebrows furrowing in concentration. "I didn't know. I just thought they were trying to win the gift card."
"Yeah, the chance of winning the gift card is only a bonus. They only go in there to see you."
"Wow," she murmured, looking up at Edward. "I really had no idea."
"That's what makes you so beautiful," he cooed, tracing her cheekbone gently with his fingertips. "The way you carry yourself when you walk oozes confidence. How you handle customers and little kids…shows how confident you are. It's sexy."
She offered a small smile and quickly pecked him on the lips. "I have to use the bathroom," she said and dashed from the bedroom.
After Bella took care of her business, she tiptoed into the living room and grabbed the elf from the shelf. She grinned and ran to her purse digging out a pen and a sticky note pad she kept for emergencies. Quickly she scribbled on several of the pieces of paper and stuck them together against the elf's chest. Carefully, she placed him on the counter standing next to the coffee pot.
She was certain that Edward would enjoy the homemade love coupons she'd just made and with Christmas so close, she felt that it was the perfect gift on such short notice.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked, approaching Bella from behind and wrapping his arms around her. "Are you messing with my elf?" he accused playfully.
"I had to try to hide him," she moaned as Edward's mouth brushed the sensitive skin behind her ear.
"What are these Post-it notes?" he asked, fingering the pieces of paper.
"Those are for Christmas," she muttered.
"Oh really?" he chuckled, his voice rising an octave in question.
"They are, so don't peek," she scolded him.
"I think we have the Elf on the Shelf to thank for bringing us together," he pointed out. "If you hadn't started that ridiculous contest I wouldn't have had a reason to come in and see you every day."
Bella laughed and nodded. "We should give thanks to the elf."
"We should probably pay homage to the elf by visiting the bedroom again," Edward said huskily, planting a smacking kiss on Bella's lips.
"Yes, the bedroom," Bella murmured against his mouth. "Let's thank the elf in the bedroom."
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! Wishing you a joyous New Year!