Pop the Question Contest Entry

Title: Stumbling into Forever

Word Count (without the A/n and header): 4835

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Rating: T

Summary: Bella literally runs into Edward at a coffee shop one afternoon. "Who would have thought that my clumsiness would have led me to the most amazing journey I would ever go on?"
Warnings (if any): none

Stumbling into Forever

As I pulled up to the place that has become more like home to me over the past few months than my own house, I thought about how much my life had changed since meeting Edward.

Back then, I was focused on my career. The only fantasy world I was dreaming about was the one in whatever manuscript my boss, Jane, threw on my desk. I just wasn't that type of girl. . . You know the kind. The ones who have notebooks full of wedding plans that they started in elementary school, or the ones who cast the latest Hollywood heartthrob as the prince in their limitless fairy tale dreams. I didn't dress up in my mother's old tablecloths to marry my teddy bear. I never dreamed of silk and lace wedding gowns or ugly jewel-toned taffeta bridesmaids' dresses. And I most certainly never believed in love at first sight.

Rose, my roommate, always called me cynical, but I called it realistic. At twenty-five years old, I had no time for a relationship much past the occasional dinner date or one-night stand. I was focused on working on the career I'd always dreamed of. The longest relationship I'd ever had was with the plant in my kitchen. It wasn't because I had gone through some nasty break up leaving me with trust issues. No tragic love story. No high school sweetheart who went off to college leaving me behind heartbroken. . . My parents were still very much in love after almost thirty years of marriage. I just didn't have the time. Working sixty plus hours a week left very little time for a social life. But, it was Rose's mission in life to find me a man. She was my very own matchmaker, or so she liked to think. After she met Emmett during our junior year of college, she ditched her party-girl image and had spent the last four years blissfully happy with Em by her side.

No matter how much I asked her not to, she still felt the need to set me up with every Tom, Dick and Harry she could find. After the first five awkward dates, I begged and pleaded for her to stop. When I asked Emmett to help me out, he did what any rational boyfriend would do . . . he proposed. Now, Rose had something to focus on other than my love-life and I didn't have to go out on anymore blind dates.

I remember the day I met Edward perfectly. It was a typical Friday for me. I had just gotten off work and had some time to kill before I had to meet Rose and Emmett at our usual spot for dinner. So, I went to the quiet little coffee shop on the corner across from my office where I usually went when I wanted a few hours of uninterrupted peace. Since it was an unusually warm day in Seattle in early May, I grabbed an iced latte and sat at a table outside.

I had stopped about half way through the manuscript I was reading to make myself a note, when a gust of wind blew some of the papers I had away. When I stood up to try and grab the pages, I lost my balance. Just when I thought I was going to face plant, I was caught by strong arms. When I opened my eyes and turned around, I found myself looking into the most vibrant green eyes I had ever seen.

He was, without a doubt, the most gorgeous man I had ever laid eyes on. Strong jaw, messy bronze hair, sexy scruff, and did I mention the piercing green eyes?

Looking at me with a raised eyebrow, he slowly let go of my waist, as if he thought I might fall again.

"Are you okay?" I thought I heard.

A normal person would have played it cool, but since I'm nowhere near normal, I stood there staring at him.

"Uh, miss?" he looked at me, "are you all right?"

When I finally realized that Green Eyes was talking to me, I shook my head as if to wake myself up out of the trance he'd put me under.

"Uh . . . oh! Yeah, I'm fine."

I dropped my hands from his forearms and brushed myself off. He then leaned down to pick up the long-forgotten pages off the sidewalk. With his back turned, I couldn't help but glance at him . . . his strong shoulders, his lean frame, and his spectacular ass. When I realized that he had seen me checking him out, I could feel my whole body blush as I went to grab the stack of papers. As our fingers brushed, I gasped at the shock I felt. The look on his face made me think he felt it, too, but before I could make a bigger ass out of myself, I took a step back and noticed a stain on the sidewalk where he had dropped his coffee.

"Sorry about your coffee," I blurted out. Cue the internal eye roll at how ridiculous I sounded.

He looked at me and laughed, "Don't worry about it. I can always get more. Are you sure you're all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just feel bad about your coffee. You probably really needed it."

"Do I really look that bad?" he said with a smirk.

When I realized what he heard, I was quick to spit out a reply.

"NO! Oh, my god, that's not what I meant. I just meant that I would be devastated if I dropped my coffee. I usually don't buy it unless I really want it, which is all the time. You don't look bad at all. I mean you look good . . ." I rambled.

When my word vomit stopped, I blushed and said, "No, you definitely don't look like you need it." .FIED. That's what I was at that moment. There I was, talking to the most perfect man alive and I had to go and lose my verbal filter. I couldn't believe I just said that.

"Yeah, you did." Apparently my inner monologue wasn't as 'inner' as I thought.

"I just said that out loud, didn't I?" I asked as I closed my eyes and dropped my head. Two words: face palm. He just shook his head and smiled at me.

"Don't worry about it; I was just messing with you."

I looked up at him and saw a crooked smile on his face. "I'm Edward."

"Bella."

"Nice to meet you, Bella."

"Can I buy you a new coffee? It's the least I can do since you saved my face from the sidewalk . . ." I asked.

"Ok, but under one condition."

"You're giving me conditions to buy you coffee? Seriously?" I cocked my eyebrow back at him.

He rolled his eyes at me. "The condition is that you have to stay and keep me company." I had to control the urge to squeal.

"Um . . . sure, why not? Wouldn't want to you to get lonely." Cue another internal eye roll . . . Seriously, where did I come up with this crap? Sigh . . .

He smiled his crooked smile as I grabbed my bag off the chair, and we went back inside.

As I was digging in my bag for my wallet to pay for our coffee, Edward placed a twenty on the counter and told the cashier to keep the change.

"Why did you do that?" I whisper-yelled as I looked at him.

"What, buy you coffee?" he retorted.

"Wasn't the whole idea for ME to buy YOU coffee to make up for dropping your first one?"

"Yeah, but what kind of gentleman would I be if I let a pretty girl buy me coffee?" he stated as he grabbed our drinks and made his way over to a secluded couch.

This man, who I had known for all of five seconds, had made me blush more times than I had since high school health class.

"I can't even say anything sarcastic and bitchy when you say sweet things like that . . . Thank you."

"For the coffee or for calling you pretty?" Edward asked.

"Both."

"So, Edward. Tell me, besides saving clumsy girls at coffee houses, what do you do?" I asked.

He laughed, which was quickly becoming my favorite sound in the world. "Actually, I'm a doctor. What about you, Bella?"

And that's how the next hour went by. I learned that Edward was twenty-seven, worked at a private family practice with his father, who was also a doctor, had a younger sister, Alice, who was 25, worked as a fashion designer and that she was married to Jasper, Edward's roommate from college. He asked me about my family and my job as an assistant editor at a small publishing house in town. We talked about what kinds of books we liked to read and the kind of music we had on our iPods. He told me how Alice and Jasper had been bugging him to find a girl and I told him all about Rose and Emmett and how it seemed like they had been trying to win a contest with how many bad dates that they had set me up on. We laughed, a lot. So when my phone rang, and I saw it was Rose probably wondering where I was, I tried, unsuccessfully, to hide my disappointment that I would have to leave Edward.

"Wow, I didn't even realize how late it is. I'm supposed to meet Rose and Emmett for dinner." I sat there looking at him, realizing just how much I didn't want to go.

"I'm sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to keep you. It was really great talking to you," he said dejectedly.

"Don't be sorry, Edward. I'm not." I reached out and grabbed his hand. "I would much rather be here with you than dinner with them," I told him, hoping to see a smile on his face just one more time.

He squeezed my hand and stood up. "Let me at least walk you?"

I could barely contain my excitement as I stood up and grabbed my bag. "Sure, that'd be great." I quickly shot a text back to Rose letting her know I was on my way.

As we were walking, Edward reached over and grabbed my hand, linking our fingers together. We walked and talked the whole way to the restaurant, and when we stopped out in front, the thought of saying goodbye made me sick to my stomach.

We stood there for a minute, just staring at each other, neither one of us wanting the night to be over. Finally, Edward spoke. "Is it just me, or do you feel it too? Please, Bella, tell me you feel it too."

"It's not just you. I do feel it . . . whatever it is," I said so quietly I wasn't sure if he could hear me. The huge smile that lit up his face was proof enough that he did. He exhaled loudly and pulled me in so he could wrap his arms around me. "Thank God! I was beginning to think I was crazy."

"I never said you weren't crazy," I teased.

And all of the sudden, I found nothing funny about the situation. I could have sworn he was going to kiss me when we heard someone clear her throat. I was almost afraid to look, since I was pretty sure I knew who it was.

"Hey Rose," I said as I reluctantly pulled away from Edward.

"Hey Bella, I thought that was you out here . . . Our table is ready. Em's inside waiting."

"Okay, give me one sec, and I'll be right there," I told her.

"Yeah, okay. Hurry up, though. I'm starving."

"Alright! Go! I'll be right in," I snapped.

As Rose turned to walk away, I noticed the look she was giving me, and I knew I would be interrogated as soon as I sat down.

"You should probably get in there . . . She seems vicious," Edward said, only half-joking.

"You have no idea," I laughed. "But, I probably should go."

For the first time all evening, an awkward silence fell.

I squeezed his hand as I turned to leave, he stopped me.

"Bella, wait. Can I see you again? Maybe take you to dinner?"

"I'd really like that," I smiled, though on the inside I was squealing like a school girl.

Before Rose had a chance to commandeer the rest of my time with Edward, we exchanged numbers and he said, "I call you . . . soon."

"I can't wait," I told him honestly. I really couldn't wait.

With that, he leaned in and kissed me on the cheek before he turned and left me. I placed my hand on my cheek as soon as he was turned around, feeling the heat of his lips on my skin. I could almost imagine what it would feel like to have his lips on mine, but I figured there was no way that I could ever come close to what it would feel like. At that moment, I vowed to make it happen.

As I was walking toward our table, I felt my phone vibrate in my purse. It was a text from a number I didn't recognize. As soon I saw the message, I felt giddy.

Too soon? ;) Have dinner with me tomorrow night? ~E

I smiled to myself as I typed out my response.

Not soon enough. Tomorrow sounds great. ~B

I'll pick you up at 6. ~E

"What are you smiling about, Bell?" Emmett asked as I sat down.

"What? Oh, nothing . . . Just had a really good day," I said dreamily.

"Bullshit!" yelled Rose. Emmett and I both stared at her. "Sorry, didn't mean to yell, but that's crap and you know it, B."

"Please just leave it alone, Rose. . . I really don't want to talk about it right now," I pleaded.

"Oh no missy. Spill. Who was that hottie I caught you almost kissing?"

"Hey! Hottie? What about me, Rosie?" Emmett pouted.

"Don't worry, baby. You're my monkey man. There's no one hotter than you to me," she cooed.

Ew. I rolled my eyes and gave her a look, hoping she would let it go. No such luck.

"Fine. His name is Edward, and I met him at the coffee shop across from my office this afternoon," I said. "We talked for a while, and he walked me here to meet you guys. He had just asked me to dinner when Rose so rudely interrupted us." I glared at her playfully, because I could.

"And . . ." she asked

"And, that's all you get."

"Seriously? That's it? Come on, Bella, you gotta give me something!" She was almost begging now.

I shook my head and said, "Nope, that's it Rose. I don't even know what this is, but I'm gonna figure it out without your help, for once." I grabbed her hand, "Look, Rose, you know I love you, and I know you mean well, but I really like this guy. I need to do this my own way."

One thing about Rose was that she knew when to push and she knew when to back off. Thankfully, she understood that this was a battle she wouldn't win, and she let it go.

"Ok, fine. I just want you to be happy Bella. If you think this Edward can do that, then I'll leave it alone . . . for now." Well, that was something.

"Thank you. I promise, if it becomes something more, I'll tell you. All I know right now is that he makes me feel things that I've never felt before, and I don't want to do anything to risk that."

Thankfully, the conversation steered away from me and my new whatever it was with Edward to whatever Rose and Emmett wanted to talk about.

"So, I don't want you to panic or think that this changes anything for us, but I asked Em to move in," she said cautiously. "We don't want you to move out. I mean, there's plenty of room for all of us and you know I love living with you. It's just that his lease is up next month, and since we've talked about buying a place after the wedding, it just didn't make sense for him to renew when we still have a full year left on our place."

"Really? That's your big news? Good Lord, I thought you were going to tell me you were eloping or that you were pregnant or something!" I laughed. "That's great, you guys. I'm so happy for you."

"So you're okay with me moving in? Really?" Emmett asked.

"Of course I am! You're always there anyway, so I figured it was only a matter of time before you made it official. Plus, it'll be nice to have a man around the house . . . Even if it is a big oaf like you." I winked.

He smiled, and we spent the rest of the night laughing and talking about our weeks. Rose kept her word and never brought up Edward. I was extremely grateful for that, especially since I couldn't stop thinking about him.

Saturday came and before I knew it, it was six o'clock and my dream date was knocking on my door. Emmett begged to let him answer the door because he wanted to intimidate Edward, but I told him that if he tried, I would never cook for him again. Thankfully, Emmett loved my cooking, so he went to sit on the couch with Rose.

If I thought Edward looked good the day before, I was completely blown away when I opened the door. He was wearing a black suit jacket with a green button down shirt with a pair of dark wash jeans. His hair was the same sexy mess that made me want to run my fingers through it, and yesterday's scruff was gone. In his hand, he had a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.

"Hi," I said.

"Bella, you're beautiful," he said as he leaned in and kissed my cheek. I held the door open, inviting him inside.

"Hi, I'm Rose, this is my fiancé, Emmett."

"Hello, I'm Edward Cullen. It's nice to meet you. Bella speaks very highly of you both." He was so sweet.

"Here, B, I'll put those in some water for you." Rose said as she took the flowers from me, giving me a look of approval.

"Thanks. Well, we should get going. I'll see you guys later," I said.

As we turned to leave, Rose winked at me and mouthed, "We won't wait up."

I rolled my eyes and shut the door as she and Emmett started giggling.

Edward led me to his car, a silver Volvo sedan, parked on the street outside my building and opened the door for me.

He took me to a little Italian place where we sat at a secluded table in the back. He must have slipped the waiter something, because the only time we were interrupted was when he came to refill our drinks and to bring our food.

The food was amazing, but the company was even better. We laughed at memories from our childhoods and we told stories about our friends. Before we knew it, we were the last two people in the restaurant. Never once did we meet an awkward silence or any hesitation. Hands down, it was the best date I had ever been on.

Edward paid the bill and led me out to the car. As he went to open the door, he stopped and looked at me.

"Did I tell you how gorgeous you look tonight?" he asked. I could feel his gaze roaming my entire body, setting me on fire. I wondered for a second if he could feel how he made me blush.

"Yes, more than once. But it's always nice to hear." I smiled at him as he took my hand and stepped closer to me.

"You are, without question, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I mean that," he said, his voice husky. He ran his hand over my shoulder and down my arm, only stopping when he met my waist. I put my hands on his arms, and he looked down at me, glancing at my lips subtly.

This is it, I thought. He's going to kiss me. Though I was internally squealing, I was taking deep breaths, trying to keep my composure. Ever so slowly, he leaned down, softly pressing his lips to mine. For a split second, I forgot to breathe. At first, the kiss was slow and soft, but after a moment, he lightly sucked my lip between his as his tongue slipped out, requesting entrance to my mouth. Without hesitation, I opened to him, and our tongues twirled and danced together. Finally pulling away, he rested his forehead against mine, both of us breathing heavy.

"Definitely as good as I'd hoped," he said quietly, before lightly touching his lips to mine once more.

His kisses left me speechless, so I nodded my head in agreement as he opened the car door for me.

When he left that night, after another round of heated kisses at my door, there were promises of second dates and phone calls.

When I opened the door to my apartment, I was none too surprised to see Rose sitting on the couch waiting for me.

"I thought you weren't coming home," she said with a knowing smile on her face.

"I thought you weren't gonna wait up for me," I retorted.

"So, how was it?"

Sighing, I answered her, noting the dreamy quality of my voice. "He's amazing Rose. Truly one of the most amazing guys I've ever met. He's considerate and funny. So sweet . . . and unf . . . You've seen him. I mean, the man gives new meaning to the word sexy. He has this confidence about him, but he's not cocky at all."

"Oh, girl, you've got it bad," she laughed.

"Yeah, yeah, I do. And you know what? I'm actually really happy about that."

We giggled as I told her about my date, and when I went into my room that night, I knew that I would have sweet dreams about a certain doctor with bronze hair.

My decision to go to the coffee shop that day started something that I knew would change my life. Edward and I spent almost every night together, and the nights when we were apart, we spent on the phone or texting each other. He had quickly become my entire world, and while Rose worried that we were moving too fast, she saw how happy he made me.

Soon after our first date, the hesitation Edward seemed to possess when it came to our physical relationship disappeared. I would usually meet Edward at his place after work, but more often than not, we ended up ordering takeout because we couldn't keep our hands off each other long enough to go anywhere. If I thought kissing that man was amazing, there were truly no words to describe our chemistry in the bedroom. Let's just say Edward brought out a side of me that I didn't know existed, and because of that, we spent most nights at his house.

Now, here we were, almost five months later. It was so hard for me to remember what my life was like before I met Edward. He brought out a side of me that I didn't know I had. I'm sappy and romantic and all of the things I never thought I would be. I had become one of those girls. The kind of girl who dreams of how her man would get down on one knee and pledge to love her forever. The girl who spends her days dreaming of walking down the aisle, on the arm of her father, meeting the man she loves to promise their lives to one another. The girl who dreams of bronze-haired, green eyed babies. Yes, that is what Edward had done to me.

While we had only been together a few short months, I knew, without a doubt, that Edward was the one for me. Truth be told, I knew after that day at the coffee shop, but every day since has been confirmation that he was truly meant for me.

When I pulled in to the driveway just after seven o'clock on my birthday, I noticed the house was unusually dark. Edward did say we were meeting here at seven, right? I grabbed my phone to double check. Yep, he said seven. He better not be throwing me a surprise party. He knows how much I hate surprises, I thought to myself.

Thinking back over the weeks leading up to this day, I remembered how many times I begged him and Rose not to do anything special. "Just spending time with you is all I need," I told him at least 100 times. I'd learned that Edward and Rose are a dangerous team. Even though they didn't seem to warm up to each other right away, that soon changed. Now, it was hard to keep them apart. Good thing I knew that they were just friends, otherwise I might have been jealous.

I walked up to the door and pulled out the key Edward had given me a few months before. I slowly turned the lock and opened the door to find a trail of rose petals surrounded by an aisle of candles leaving a path from the foyer through the kitchen into the great room.

"Edward?" I called out, hoping to get an answer.

"In here, babe," he answered from the great room.

As I turned the corner into the kitchen, I dropped my bag when I saw what looked like a million candles lighting the whole room. As if the candles and flowers weren't enough, I looked up to find the most breathtaking sight I'd ever seen.

Edward was there, standing in front of the fireplace, in my favorite jeans and a button down shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows, barefoot. He looked nervous, but as he looked at me, I could see him steel his nerves. He met me as I walked into the room and took my hand. He led me over to the fireplace and turned to look at me. He was always beautiful to me, but in this moment, he was more beautiful to me than ever before. He had a gleam in his eye, and in that instant, I knew exactly what was about to happen.

He squeezed my hand as he looked at me with a serious expression on his face. He smiled at me to let me know silently that everything was about to change.

"Bella, these past few months have been the very best of my life. You are the sole reason for that. I wake up every day, excited about what's to come. Before you, I was content to watch my friends all get married and have kids, thinking that I wasn't ready. That all changed the day you, literally, stumbled into my life." I laughed through the tears that were threatening to fall at his words. "You have become my reason for existing. When I'm positive it will never be possible to love you anymore, you prove me wrong." Through tears, both his and mine, he continued his heart-felt confession. "You are my life, baby, and if you'll let me, I will promise to give you everything I am for the rest of my life."

He knelt down, and looked up at me through his long lashes.

"Isabella Marie Swan, I promise to love you every moment of forever. Marry me."

I had dreamed about this for months, yet I never thought it would have this kind of impact on me. The man I loved more than my own life, on his knees, promising to love me forever . . . I had never felt as lucky as I did in that moment.

My entire body was shaking, my vision blurred from happy tears; I knelt down with him and took his face in my hands.

"Yes. One hundred times, yes," I whimpered before his lips crashed into mine.

That night, after we had made love for the third time, I lay snuggled against Edward's chest, reveling in the nights events. Who would have thought that my clumsiness would have led me to the most amazing journey I would ever go on? And I couldn't help but think how lucky I was, having this perfect man to call my own, forever.