Just flying by the seat of my pants here, no beta again. (Sadly, two of my long-time betas are most likely in no mood to beta today. To both of them I offer hugs, and love, and good things. Like Edward in Bella's bedroom, hopefully today is just the beginning.)
Before Edward gets a chance to make good on his promise, Sue calls them in for dinner. It's a bit awkward at times, but good. Bella holds his hand under the table while he tells Sue about the rehab center and his work with the homeless shelter. Sue approves, if the look in her eyes is any indication, and his former father-in-law mirrors her expression.
Edward is relieved when the conversation moves on to what's new with Bella's job. He's not quite used to being back in the Swan's good graces yet, and he can't stop wondering about what Charlie and Sue think of his presence in Bella's life now. When will that come up? What will they say? Is he ready to bare the depth of his feelings or his intentions just yet? Does he even know what his intentions are?
The inquisition he's expecting never comes. Charlie gets a call about a multi-car pile-up in town and dinner is cut short. The kitchen quickly morphs into something of a mobile command center, and rather than worry about things they can't help, Sue sends Bella and Edward off to entertain themselves. Neither of the elder Swans even notice them disappear up the stairs.
His heart is pounding as she pushes open the door to her childhood room. The wood floors seem darker and newer than he remembers, but the walls are still purple and the bed is still small. Despite that, it takes up the majority of the space in the room. Her beat-up old desk is missing, as is her grandmother's rocking chair.
"It's at my apartment," she says when she sees where he's looking.
He nods and follows her inside. She leads him to the bed, and they sit side by side facing the picture window that he used to climb through when they were still in high school.
"The tree is taller," he says.
Bella nods, he sees it from the corner of his eye. Linking their fingers together, he turns to look at her.
She smiles, but keeps her gaze on the window. "I'm glad you remember the tree."
He chuckles. "I definitely remember the tree."
She turns her head toward him slowly, her cheeks pink and her dark eyes full of an emotion he can't quite place.
"What is it? What is that look?"
She searches his gaze for a long moment, the unfathomable expression on her face growing more intense, more frustrated. She frowns and shakes her head.
"It's so strange having you here. I remember everything about our life before, everything that ever happened between us in this room, but I don't know if you do. I can't tell."
His heart gives a sudden lurch. "Oh, Isabella..."
She tries to hide the tears that fill her eyes, she tries to turn away from him, but he doesn't let her get far. "I remember you. I remember this room. That tree. This bed."
Her eyes flutter close and he drops his forehead against hers. Her sweet breath washes over him, into him, while she tries not to cry.
He ghosts his lips over hers. "I remember our first kiss, and our first time."
Her hands slide over his shoulders, her fingers drawing the soft material of his sweater into her clenched fists. "I'm so scared, E."
"I know. So am I."
"Everything's off kilter. This feels both brand new and yet hauntingly familiar. Like we've never really known each other, and like we've known each other forever." She swallows, licks her lips. "You're still you, but you're so different, so unexpected."
"I know. You, too." He watches a small smile light her face as he kisses the tears from her cheeks. "I can't believe your letting me touch you, hold you, be with you... not after everything I put you through."
She sighs and shakes her head ever so slightly. "It feels like that was another person. Or like you're another person now."
He takes a thoughtful breath. "I guess I am in a lot of ways. I've learned some hard lessons. Learned that I'm not an island unto myself."
She smirks. "Very poetic."
"Thanks. I think I stole that from a pamphlet somewhere."
She laughs softly, then sighs and presses her mouth to the line of his jaw. "So honest."
"I try to be. It's..."
"What?" She stops just short of pressing her mouth to the spot below his ear that he loves so much.
He sits back and tilts his head to the side, listening. Sure enough, someone is coming up the stairs. Bella hears it then too, and scoots back a bit. He mourns the loss of her heat and her nearness, but smiles all the same.
"Are you all right?" he asks, checking in with her before they're no longer alone.
She smiles and nods. "I'm okay."
"Yeah. How are you doing?"
He strokes her cheek and smiles her favorite smile. "I'm good. I'm not looking forward to sleeping on the couch, but otherwise, I'm very, very good."
Warm, sweet lips meet his. "Good."