Song: One and Only, by Adele.
The whole idea of the fic actually came to me while listening to that song, cough-twoyearsago-cough. I can't believe it took me this long to get to this chapter. I added a link into my profile.
Forever grateful for my beta and pre-readers! ღ
Disclaimers: I don't own Twilight © Stephenie Meyer. Emma, Juliet and the plot are all mine, though.
¤ You Came Too Early ¤
Chapter 24- I promise I'm worthy
I looked at our two story high tower with both awe and disbelief. Where all the delicious seafood once stood, now only melted ice cubes remained. Our own plates were now full of shells as Edward discarded the last of his shrimp tail.
I sighed loudly, sated. "I cannot believe we ate all that."
In our defense, we'd taken our sweet time. I'd been enjoying the view, the food, and especially the company. Edward proved to be an amazing date. Once we'd decided the heavy conversation about our past was done, he didn't let the atmosphere become tense again. Instead, he asked so many questions about me and my life in Seattle that I spent much of the remainder of our meal doing the talking. It was like he wanted to know everything there was to know about me, filling in the five years he'd missed.
It was easy for me to guess that our girls had kept him informed on what had been going on in my life over the years, because while he would typically ask general questions, he would also ask very specific ones that would start with "Jules mentioned once..." or "I think Emma told me..." I was also starting to catch on why he'd been so startled by the fact that I'd been dating Garrett for a while. The girls couldn't have told him about this part of my life, since I'd tried my best to keep them in the dark.
When we'd resumed eating – savouring was more like it – our tower's contents, I told him the important stuff that'd happened to my family and my friends; I told him about Angela and Ben's wedding, and how I thought he would get along great with Ben despite Angela's lingering animosity towards him. I told him about Leah and Sam's six-month-old daughter, Emily, who had everyone wrapped around her little fingers.
Of course, we also talked about our girls, their school, friends and activities, and how I was managing through it all. I used the occassion to let him know that I only discovered on this visit that Emma – and probably Juliet too, though I had yet to see her – was so good at surfing, for they had never wanted to go with their uncles down at La Push.
"Why not?" Edward had seemed surprised.
I gave him a small smile. "Because, Edward, clearly it's a father-daughter activity for them and they want it to remain that way. They cherish it."
He nodded, understanding. "It's a shame though. Seth and Sam are the ones who taught me. The girls could learn a lot from them."
"But it wouldn't be the same," I'd said.
By the time we'd finished our food and wine, I'd told him all about my ups and downs, my good days and my bad. And against all odds, we succeeded in keeping it light and civil. Edward was a great listener and asked the right questions at the right time.
Our waiter came back to clear the table. "Would you guys care for some dessert?" He asked. Edward raised his eyebrows toward me, waiting for my answer.
"Oh," I scoffed, "maybe tomorrow?"
The waiter nodded with a knowing smile while Edward laughed. "Just the bill, please," he said.
"So... how about a walk on the beach?" Edward asked again, his eyes sparkling in the dim light of the evening.
"Was it very expensive?" I couldn't help asking as I removed my high heels and discarded them into Edward's car. I held myself up by the door.
Edward rolled his eyes. "Don't worry about it," he said, and I decided he was right.
"Well, totally worth it," I said instead. "Those lobster tails with garlic butter, hmm!" I couldn't help but moan just by remembering their taste.
Edward gazed at me, and swallowed, making me laugh. Maybe I shouldn't have been so expressive, but Edward's reaction amused me nonetheless. I hopped my way through the parking lot until I reached the grass that lead to a stairwell to the beach. I heard a 'bip-bip' behind me as Edward locked his Volvo and followed me, now barefoot, too.
As we walked away from the restaurant's music and chatter, the soft breeze and the sound of the waves were the only noise that accompanied us. It wasn't as dark as I would've expected. The sun had just set and a beautiful orange glow was still visible on the horizon. The light coming from the city behind us was illuminating the sky, blocking the stars out. I thought of the girls at home and their planned evening outside, and hoped they weren't too disappointed.
"So, tell me about your job," Edward asked from beside me. I turned my head and looked at him. "What books have you fallen in love with, lately?"
I smiled and started talking again. You would think he would've grown bored of hearing me talk, but here he was, asking me more questions, about my job, my boss Zafrina, and the numberous books and summaries I'd read and loved. "I have so much admiration for authors," I chatted on, "how they not only have the greatest ideas for a story, but how they also create such depth with their characters and storylines, making the readers love or hate them; aching for them, longing for them. They can make you feel emotions so real or imagine a whole new world with only words on paper, and that had always been extraordinary to me. It requires a raw talent and courage that I wish I had."
I stopped and blushed a little, realizing I was starting to ramble. I would always get this way when I was talking about books and other things that I loved.
Edward chuckled. "I can see you're still so passionate about your job," he told me after a short while, a smile on his face. "I always loved that about you."
His remark left me pensive and I decided not to comment on it. "Yeah, well, that's it, though," I said. "I'm not yet a book editor, but I'm not just anybody's assistant, I'm the editor-in-chief's assistant." I chuckled; I'd used the same tone Emma had used when she'd defended my job on my first day here.
Edward nodded, looking at the horizon with a smile. "I tend to agree with Seth, you know."
"About what?" I was so startled by this that I stopped walking.
He stopped beside me and looked at me with a knowing smile. I didn't think he was paying much attention by the end of my 'monologue', but he surprised me with his next question. "Tell me, Bella, has Zafrina ever published a book you hated?" I shook my head no... of course not! "And has she ever not published a book you told her you'd loved?" Once again I shook my head. "There you have it! You have more say into this than you give yourself credit for. Your boss values your opinion. You feel like you do most of the job, and that's probably because you do. You are already a book editor; she's just forming you to be her successor."
I beamed at him and he smiled back, winking. I thought that I wouldn't care what Edward thought of my career, but for some strange reason, I was relieved and happy that he looked proud.
"Thanks," I whispered, truly grateful. I took a step forward then and let my feet meet the water. Edward followed me, and we continued our walk for a bit.
I curled my toes at every step, just like Emma had taught me to do yesterday. I could feel the chilly sand crumbling nicely between my toes, before the wave would come and take it all away, leaving my feet clean again.
We'd come to walk on the beach twice in as many days, and I couldn't see myself growing bored of it.
"You know, I could get used to this," I sighed while removing the elastic in my hair letting it fall loose on my back. I felt happy and serene.
Somewhere behind me, Edward chuckled. I turned around and grinned at him. "What?"
"Nothing." He grinned back. "I could get used to this, too," he said, but the way his eyes ran over my body told me that he wasn't speaking about the feeling of the sand between his toes.
All of a sudden, he took two quick steps toward me and held on to my hips, standing tall in front of me. "I love having you here," he confessed, his voice mellow, like a secret.
I hold back a giggle, placing my hands on his chest. Looked like Edward was done being subtle and I was surprised, yet pleased, by the implications of his statement.
"Dance with me?" he asked his lips so close to my ear.
I threw my head back a little and looked up at him, arching an eyebrow. There was no need to remind him that he had once asked me this very same question, long ago, at a college party. Instead, I said, "You're aware there's no music, right?"
He chuckled and I could feel it resonate in his chest under my palms. "And you realize that it's part of my job? To create music for every situation?"
"Is that so?" I teased, rising my hands up and around his neck to hug him closer, enjoying his warmth. If he wanted to flirt, so could I. "So tell me, if this was a movie, which song would fit this moment of our lives?"
A mischevious light glowed in his eyes. "Hmm,... let me think." But he didn't. Think, that is. He knew exactly which song he wanted to share.
As the first notes reached my ears, so amazingly hummed by my ex-husband, so in tune, so soft and low and deep, my eyes grew bigger with surprise.
And then he started singing the lyrics. I'd never heard Edward sing like this before, romantically. "You've been on my mind, I grow fonder every day..."
"Wha—" I stuttered, but stopped myself. The last thing I wanted was to interrupt him. But Edward instantly got the silent question, and grinned through the words.
It was like we were having a silent conversation that lasted about two seconds; a few days ago, when we were in the car we'd heard that very same song on the radio, Edward didn't even seem to know it. Yet here he was tonight, singing it to me. He winked at me, as if to say, "What can I say, I'm a fast learner." And of course he would be.
"God only knows, why it's taken me so long, to let my doubts go, you're the only one that I want."
And that's when I realized that this was planned. This moment, this song, this dance! It was Edward's gift to me. I didn't need flowers. And I didn't need jewels. He was offering me this perfect moment, pouring his heart out, offering me some kind of commitment.
I let it all sink in, closing my eyes and leaning my head against his torso. Edward held me tighter, swaying us slowly in the wet sand.
"You never know if you never try, to forgive your past and simply be mine. I dare you to let me be, your one and only. I promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms."
He sang it all, having rearranged the chorus for a stand-alone singer. "I know it ain't easy, giving up your heart". His voice wasn't strong or loud and powerful, but he knew how to hold his ground, sounding soothing and very melodious.
Most importantly, he was singing it just for me.
"So come on and give me a chance, to prove that I'm the one who can, walk that mile, until the end starts."
Too soon, Edward's voice drifted off. I held on to him, scared to move and ruin the moment. I let the sound of the waves rock us, and Edward seemed content to oblige. After a while, though, he stirred and broke our embrace.
"We should probably head home," he said, his hands roamed up and down my arms, warming me up. I didn't even realize I was cold.
I looked up at him, retracting my arms from around his neck. "Thank you, for this." I took a step back, thinking he wanted us to get moving, but noticed at the last minute how he'd reached down, as if to kiss me.
It lasted a mere second, this moment of doubt and awkwardness mixed with want, but it evaporated quickly when I realized Edward had just been bending forward in order to remove his cable knit pullover above his head.
"Here, take this," he said, handing it over to me. He wore a white shirt underneath it and he began to roll his sleeves up to his elbows.
I smiled and gladly snuggled into the beige sweater that was way too large for me. Forgoing any shame, I brought my sleeve covered hands up and lifted the collar to my face, closed my eyes and breathed in, letting Edward's warmth and odor surround me.
When I finally let go of the sweater and raised my gaze, Edward was looking at me, shocked. Then he let out a laugh. "Come on, weirdo!" He said, taking my hand in his.
I giggled to cover my blush as we started to walk back toward the restaurant and Edward's car.
He never let go of my hand.
I spent the whole ride back home laughing, as Edward was relating the story of Emmett wanting to surprise Rosalie for her birthday and going to her newest movie's set wearing only a g-string, a rose, and – because he's Emmett – a pair of black sock with sandals. Well, wasn't he surprised when Rosalie arrived... with the entire cast and crew! I'd barely known Rose and Emmett for a week now, yet it was easy to imagine the whole scene, and their reactions.
"Oh, God!" I was still laughing by the time Edward parked the car in his driveway.
"Yeah," Edward said his voice full of amusement and disbelief as he exited the car. "That's the kind of thing Emmett does." Somehow, it just made me like the doofus even more.
I reached down and slipped my feet back into my heels. By the time I was done, Edward was opening my door and offering me his hand. The house was dark as we walked towards it, except for the porch light that had been left on.
I was kind of sad that the evening was already over. Once we would step into the house, we'd become Edward and Bella again, exes and Emma and Juliet's parents. I'd loved how we'd been honest and carefree tonight, not once worrying about our words or actions. We'd talked, laughed, danced and held hands without anyone judging us; and without the fear of getting two little girls' hopes up and hurt them.
Edward must have been thinking along those lines, too as he stopped me from opening the door, holding on to the moment. He pulled on my hand a little and I turned toward him.
I smiled sheepishly. "Thanks for tonight, Edward. I had a great time," I said honestly, though it felt cliché. I didn't know how to tell him everything that I wanted to.
But Edward shook his head and pulled me even closer to him. Never letting go of my hand, he brought his right one up and tucked it into my hair at the nape of my neck, making me look up at him.
"Thank you for letting me in, Bella," he said. "You've changed a lot in five years."
I frowned. "Is that a bad thing?"
"No!" He shook his head and kissed my forehead. "No, not at all. I needed to hear those things. If anything, it makes me love you even more." His lips lingered on my skin for a while, not daring to move, as if he was as shocked as me by his declaration.
After a moment though, he took a step back and looked at me hesitantly. "Oh," was my brillant reply. My heart was beating one hundred miles an hour.
He smiled. "You have no idea how badly I want to kiss you right now," he confessed with a low, seductive tone. He used his thumb to caress that sensitive spot behind my ear, softly, lovingly.
Instinctively, my eyes went to his lips, and I blinked. "What," I said with humor, but I was totally chicken out, "like some teenagers kissing on their parents' porch at the end of their date?"
Edward smirked. "Well, we skipped that part, don't you agree?" Then he lowered his head towards me and my eyes went back to his irresistible lips. But instead of kissing me, he went for my ear. "Besides," he murmured, his warm breath on my neck, "I feel way safer here than what I would've felt on your father's porch, knowing he would have been waiting for me with a gun."
A chortle escaped me, but it quickly morphed into a moan as Edward dropped light, butterfly kisses on my neck, just below my ear. Both my hands went to his chest, grabbing his shirt to hold me upright. He slowly moved to my jaw, still dropping small kisses that made my toes curl. He was heading to my mouth and I both dreaded the moment and longed for it.
"Edward," I sighed, not sure if I was encouraging him to stop, or to hurry.
"Bella," he responded, and his lips caressed mine as he said it. I whimpered.
And suddenly, the light on the porch turned off, and on again, and the door opened. Edward and I both took a step back, blinking, and looked over at Carlisle.
"Oh! Hi, kids," Edward's father said, cheerful. "I was just checking if we'd left the light on and the door unlock— What are you guys doing outside, anyway?"
I could feel my cheeks burn and reddening deeper than they ever had tonight. I put a hand on my mouth to cover my nervous laugh.
Edward, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to strangle his dad. His mouth moved, forming words that his love and respect for his dad prevented him to say out loud. In the end, he opted for a groan of disbelief. "Oh, for God's sake!" He growled. We'd had our fair share of interruptions and this one was one too many.
Edward turned on his heel, grabbing his hair. He was obvousily frustrated at his father. I was too, yet somehow, I also happened to be relieved. We'd been too much under the influence of our date and I wondered for a moment if, under any other circumstances, I would have let him kiss me. I remembered the convictions I had at the begining of the evening, how I'd wanted to protect myself and my children.
I smiled apologetically at Carlisle. "Well," I said to my ex-husband, trying to dissolve the awkward moment, "it turned out exactly like a first date, huh?!"
Edward forced a humorless laugh. "Ha, ha."
Comprehension appeared upon Carlisle features. "Oh! I'm sorry, did I just interrupt something?"
I took a step toward my ex-father-in-law and put a hand on his arm, smiling at him. "Don't worry about it," I told him, yet giving Edward a warning glance. "How were the girls, tonight?"
"Oh," Carlisle cooed, as I knew he would. "They were angels." He followed me into the house, telling me all about their evening.
Edward reluctancly followed, sullen.
I love my dad. I truly do. But the man has the worst timing ever! Would I ever be able to spend a moment with Bella, a kiss, an embrace, without being interrupted? It wasn't too much to ask for, yet somehow it seemed to be impossible in this household.
I couldn't help but feel as if I'd missed the perfect opportunity to kiss her. We'd had a great date. We'd finally communicated like adults. We'd shared our feelings, we'd laughed, and even danced. I'd like to think I'd surprised her in a good way. I'd even admitted that I loved her. That was a big step, which I hadn't meant to say this fast, this way, but I was kind of glad I did now. I'd promised myself that, if I was to have a second chance with Bella, I wouldn't wait to tell her how I felt about her. I just hoped that I hadn't scared her away for it hadn't been that long since I broke up with Tanya.
And yet, she'd seemed willing. I still could feel her breath on me, as she was waiting for me to kiss her. If only my dad hadn't appeared out of nowhere...
"Edward, are you listening to me?" My dad asked, and I blinked at him.
"The plane. Tomorrow. Eight O'clock," he repeated as if I was slow to understand.
"Yeah, yeah, got it," I replied irritated. Not only had my dad ruined our kiss, but he'd also prevented me from following Bella upstairs as she went to kiss the girls goodnight. He wanted to give me all of the information for their flight tomorrow morning, and that, of course, could not happen without a cup of tea.
Bella would inevitably be asleep by the time I'd make it upstairs.
"So..." My dad's tone suddenly changed and I rolled my eyes, knowing where this was going. I put one of my feet on the stool I was sitting on, leaning my arm over my knee and waited for it. "How did it go, tonight?"
I arched an eyebrow. "Seriously, Dad?"
He raised his hands in surrender. "It's not for me. You know your mother would want to know." He took a sip of his tea, trying to look nonchalant, but the glance he gave me from above his cup betrayed him.
"Yeah, well, I think Mom, and everybody else for that matter, should mind their own business. We're not kids anymore."
My dad nodded. "Oh, son, but you are our business," he said with too much fondness I couldn't remain mad at him.
By the time we went upstairs, everything was dark and there wasn't a sound anywhere. Dad quickly escaped into his room, and though I wanted nothing more than to go and crash into my own bed, the little sleep I'd gotten the last few days starting to wear me down, I went to my girls' bedrooms to kiss them goodnight. Juliet's turned out to be empty, and so I expected to find her with her sister. But I found Emma peacefully sleeping alone, her long dark hair spread all over her white pillows. I walked closer and kissed her forehead.
Closing the door behind me, I wondered a moment. There was no doubt in my mind that Juliet was in her mom's bed. Slowly, silently, I went to Bella's bedroom and turned the knob.
Just like I'd expected, Juliet was with Bella. She was under the covers and only her little head full of rich brown hair was visible. She was literally sleeping in the middle of the bed.
Bella had succeeded to make some space for herself, lying down on her side, kind of spooning our six-year-old daughter. She was above the blanket. Having discarded her shoes and jeans, she was only wearing a short pajama bottom with my cable knit sweater. I smirked at this.
I went to them, grabbing the light blanket that had been on the armchair in the corner on my way. I bent all the way over Bella and kissed Juliet's chubby cheek, brushing some of her hair out of her face. Then I spread the blanket over Bella's bare legs. Though I'd been enjoying the sight of them, I didn't want her to get cold. Taken by an impulse, I reached down and softly kissed her goodnight, too. I had had this urge all night to taste her lips again, and so now I did.
Bella stirred a little and turned her body towards me. I knew she was awake when her hand touched my cheek and she responded to the kiss, deepened it with her full, soft lips. I couldn't help but smile, my heart missing a beat. That she would respond to my kiss was proof that she wanted this as much as me. She could've faked to sleep through it, and I would've ended it quickly. But now, she was telling me she wanted this, wanted us. She was giving us a chance, here.
"Hey," I murmured, scared to wake Juliet. "Just wanted to wish you goodnight."
"Mh-hmm." She smiled knowingly, eyes tired. "Well, sweet dreams."
"I will," I assured her, and went in for another kiss. She giggled but let me and that thrilled me; that first kiss hadn't been just a fluke. I teased her with the tip of my tongue and the hand on my cheek became an arm around my neck, pulling me towards her for more. I lost my balance and almost fell on her. We both laughed quietly but Juliet stirred anyway.
"Shhh!" We said in sync. There was a moment of silence, holding still until we were sure Juliet had gone back to sleep.
"I should probably go," I said begrudgingly.
Bella nodded. "Probably, yeah." But there was this little hesitation in her voice that made me wonder.
"Or... I could take her back to her bed?" It was more a question than a proposition, really.
Bella pondered a short second before turning me down. "Better not."
"Better not," I repeated with a nod.
Her hand caressed my cheek again, her eyes sparkling. "Goodnight, Edward."
"Goodnight, Bella." I smiled.
As I left the room and closed the door behind me, I couldn't seem to remove the stupid grin off my face. We were fine. We were going to be just fine.
To be continued...
I hope you enjoy the rest of your week-end! :)