Thank you to my beautiful Beta and co-writer on this lovely adventure, Midnight Cougar or MC as I like refer to her as. She's as sweet as can be, a hard ass when it comes to grammar and tenses, has incredible ideas and can write like nobody's business, even though she'll deny it through and through!

Chapter 31


I finished packing my suitcase. It had been a few weeks since the incident with Tanya, but things were still good between Edward and I. The housing office wasn't hurrying about getting me a reassignment, so I was still living at Edward's. We had completely cleaned out my side of the dorm room. And from what Catherine had said Tanya was pretty hated throughout our building.

Word, I guess, traveled fast.

The worst was Mrs. Denali, Tanya's mother, ended up calling up Edward looking for the photos. She knew all about what happened and played it off like it was no big deal. She even had the nerve to ask why Edward overreacted like he did.

Such a sick and twisted mother, if you ask me.

I was so proud of Edward when he told her she could have them only when the bill was paid in full. He charged her nearly double and tacked on a few extra inconvenience fees. It was a little immature to make Tanya's parents pay for her mistake, but Edward deserved every dime after what happened.

After zipping up the suitcase and moving it to the corner with the rest of them, I went over my checklist one more time.

It was that time of the year again. I couldn't believe it, but Christmas was in only three days and we were expected home soon.

Edward had been tied up with a new job offer. He was keeping much of it under wraps for now. He said that if he took it, there would be no more questioning the steadiness of his business. That excited me, but it also worried me at the same time. I didn't want him to end up settling for something he wasn't going to be happy with down the road.

After double checking our things one more time, I deemed us ready for our trip home tomorrow.

I headed to the kitchen to make dinner. Something I had fallen in love with since I'd been living at Edward's place. Living together definitely had its perks. We were able to see each other a lot more now. And even though I had studying or homework to do, we were still able to have a nice hot dinner together every night, which I really cherished.

Once the roast was in the oven, I took a seat at the table and pulled out my homework. I really wanted it done so I could enjoy Christmas break with our families.

School was on break two weeks ago, but my professors were hateful scrooges who decided I needed to have two papers done by the time classes resumed in January. That was insane! And on top of working at my measly job in the cafeteria, I was exhausted. But every night my head hit the pillow, I still felt accomplished. Especially knowing I could've taken the easy way out through life.

Edward recognized all my hard work too, and he made a point of telling me most nights just how proud he was of me.

Just as I finished up the majority of my research on children with learning disabilities I heard the lock click and the door swing open. I glanced up with a big smile on my face as Edward walked in.

"Hi honey, I'm home," he said cheesily.

I giggled before sliding my chair out and walking over to him. My arms were around his neck just a second later and then my lips were pressed against his. That was Edward's way of greeting me since I'd began staying there with him and he loved the way I greeted him back.

"Mm, I missed you, baby," he mumbled against my lips, gripping my waist firmly and bringing me closer to him.

"I missed you too," I said with a sigh.

Life was truly good and I was definitely enjoying our time together, there was no doubt about that.

"Yum, something smells good," he commented after we finally peeled apart.

"That's a roast," I told him as I closed up my notebook and cleared the rest of my belongings off the table.

"Sounds delicious. Want me to set the table?" he asked as he took care of his camera bag.

"Sure, that would be wonderful."

I went to work mashing the potatoes and straining the boiled carrots. Once that was finished I retrieved the roast from the oven, which looked mouthwatering. I asked Edward to slice it while I poured us both a glass of wine.

I set the bread in the center of the table and took a seat, while I waited for Edward to join me.

"Hon, this looks and smells amazing," he said as he dished up a huge plate.

Edward was all American, through and through. He loved a home cooked meal as much as the next guy and I knew without a doubt he was a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

We both ate like it was our first meal in a while. And when we finished I was ready for a nap. Just thinking about tomorrow was tiring me out.

We were facing our family after months of turmoil. I knew they wanted us together, but they were going to be dissecting our every move with a fine tooth comb. That was just how our family was…they liked to know everything there was to know. They wanted us to be happy and for our relationship to be healthy, so I was sure they were going to be some of our biggest critics.

Not only that, but I had finally heard from Devin. He was looking forward to seeing Edward and I too. He and Angela were still going strong and he told me she was wonderful and he owed me huge for setting them up. I told him the only thing he owed me was to be happy, that was all the payment I needed. And I couldn't help but think about how excited I was to see both of them too. Home was going to be great and seeing everyone was going to be that much better.

Emmett was bringing Sarah home to meet his family, from what Edward told me that could prove interesting. And Em was beyond nervous. This was the same woman who'd told him how to do his job and I couldn't believe they were still together. Em wasn't normally a push over, so I was uncertain about the relationship. But the way he gushed over her told me he was serious.

So many things were changing. The most being with Rose. She had texted me a week ago, telling me I needed to Skype her immediately. I did as she had asked, and when she popped up online smiling brightly, I began to question what was up.

"I was putting away some clothes," she began, looking excited, "and I found something in Paul's sock drawer." She couldn't keep the grin off her face and I had a feeling I knew exactly what she'd found, unless my friend had just become extremely fond of porn.

"What was it?" I asked, keeping her excitement.

"It's a ring Bella, he's gonna ask me to marry him! Holy fucking shit!"

A huge smile broke out across her beautiful face and those blue eyes of hers lit up like stars. I could see she was really and truly happy. She shouldn't have been too surprised though. They bought a house together and all.

"God, Rosie, I'm so happy for you two!"

I was, and I knew what that meant too. I would get to plan a wedding. Something I was really looking forward to.

Rose might have deviated from the path she started out on, but she had found her happiness and in a world like ours, that was all you could ask for.

Ryan had even e-mailed me that he was still on the hunt, but nothing steady yet. I appreciated his updates from time to time. I guess they were the ones I related to the most. His weren't all flowers and hearts. He would tell me about great dates or shitty ones, and then the girl turning out to be a lost cause. They were, in my opinion, the most helpful; it was good knowing many relationships were tough. Edward and I fought for what we had now. We worked to be where we were; secure and trusting. We certainly weren't all hearts and flowers at all though.

The muddiness of the mean words still floated around in my mind from time to time. But whenever they would make themselves present, I would think about how great Edward had been since then. How we'd both grown and changed. How we had both become stronger.

"Hey babe, you coming to bed?" I heard Edward call from the bedroom.

"Yep, just finishing up some replies."

I typed out a nice, inspirational note to Ryan, telling him how I missed him and we needed to get together when we were all in town. Before shutting my computer and heading into the bedroom.

To say I was exhausted was an understatement, but taking one look at Edward lying in the messy covers in only a white undershirt and pair of tight black boxer-briefs did things to me. I couldn't hold them back as a shiver engulfed my entire body and I quickly stripped down to my typical sleeping attire. A long t-shirt and a pair of lacy undies. Comfortable and still somewhat sexy. That was important when climbing into bed with your boyfriend.

That night Edward made love to me, soft and slow, kissing me tenderly, bringing back the sleepiness that had faded when I'd first entered the bedroom. He kissed me reverently, whispering his love for me, until my eyes closed and my mind blacked out with sleep.

The next morning was full of nerves and grogginess. No matter how long I slept, I was still tired thanks to my busy schedule.

But we both managed to climb in the car with smiles on our faces. We were in love, happy, and we were going home to spend the holidays with our loved ones.

Before we'd left, Edward had offered to drive since there was a fresh blanket of snow. The streets in the city were fine, the snow was actually quite beautiful, but I knew as soon as we got closer to home the snow would be wetter and the roads would be awful.

On the ride I found myself clicking through music and leaning against the door, looking out the window. It was sort of surreal to think about going home with Edward for Christmas. Together. The word caught in my throat, even though I wasn't trying to actually say it out loud, it truly meant so much to me that it was difficult not to get emotional.

We were going home together, as a couple. Finally. This was something I'd dreamt about for so long. And now, we were getting that moment.

Last year all I'd wanted for Christmas was one thing and after ripping through many layers of wrapping this past year, I finally got what I'd truly wanted…Edward.

I took a deep breath and smiled as Edward pulled down the long familiar drive.

We were home.

Our journey was complete.

*sniff sniff* And there you have it. That's the last regular chapter of this little ditty. I know that MC and I will both miss this story greatly. Don't worry, there is an epilogue in the works that will be posted in a few weeks. But for now, I'm hitting complete.

I would love to know what you think about Bella's growth.

Her strength through everything she had to overcome.

And about her finally getting everything she hoped to get.

How about Edward? He grew, he changed, he overcame the stereotypes ingrained in him about age.

Rose finding her own way in life and Paul being an amazing gentleman.

If you're brave enough, I strongly suggest you check out my new Darkward short story. He's dexterward through and through. The first 2 chapters of Darkness Consumes Me are up and worth a shot. Thanks and see you soon!