"Does your dad know?" I ask as Paul and I continue to walk down the road. We turned around and now we're walking back to the house. Paul has my right hand in his and I look down at the ring on my left every few seconds.
"Of course he does. I had to get the ring from him. Your dad knows, too." He adds after a pause.
"What? Charlie knows? When did you talk to him?"
"Yeah. I went to your house while you were working a few weeks ago and talked to him."
"Well I'm glad that he didn't scare you off or anything."
"No, not at all. You know what he told me? He said that after the leech left and then after Jake left you, he started having trust issues. He started having trust issues, not just with guys that you know, but anyone because he was afraid that you were going to get close with someone and then that person would just leave like Edward and Jake did. He admitted to me that it took a while before he could actually trust that I wouldn't leave. He saw from the beginning that you're happier with me than you were with Edward, but he still worried that I would leave and you would go back to your old ways. He said that he started to gain some trust when I was there taking care of you when you were sick that one day and he wasn't there. Or when I wrapped your knee when you fell on the trail that one day.
"He said, 'Paul, I didn't like you much then just because of all the hurt Bella has gone through, but I know that Edward wouldn't have come over at 2:30 in the morning to take care of her. I don't know why, but I just have a feeling that he was somewhat controlling. I never did like him, especially after he left. It has taken a while, but I can see that you make Bella happier than anyone else has and I feel like I can trust you to keep her this happy. Just don't screw this up like Edward did.'"
"See, I told you he likes you. It just takes some time with him."
"I know. I guess I should stop underestimating you when it comes to your dad."
"He's actually not the one that I'm worried about."
"Really? Who are you worried about?"
"My mom. I mean, she would probably love you. She loves everyone. But she has an aversion to young marriage. It has to do with the fact that her and my dad got married young and it didn't end well."
"That was your parents, though. We aren't them. Things are different. A lot different."
"I know. I'm glad that things are different. I never even considered marriage until I met you, to be honest."
"Not even when you were with him?"
"Nope, not even then. You should feel special. It was never a topic that came up between us and I'm glad that it didn't. Knowing him, he probably would've wanted it and I think that would have just made things worse. Now that I look back, he was controlling and selfish. Everything that you aren't. He wouldn't even let me drive myself to school, half the time. I thought he did that stuff because he loved me, but now I realize that he was just controlling and selfish and everything that you aren't."
"I guess I am special." He leans over for a second and I feel him press his lips to the top of my head. "Are you cold?" I must be shivering or something and not realize it.
"A little." I don't lie.
"We're almost back. Let's get you warmed up."
We walk back to the house and Paul takes my coat to hang up while I take my shoes off. Nick is upstairs getting ready for a Christmas party at work. "Why don't you go pop a movie in and I will get us something warm to drink. Sound good?" Paul says.
"Yeah. That sounds good."
Paul goes into the kitchen to get the drinks and I go the opposite way into the living room.. I scan the shelf that is full of movies, half of them I don't think I've ever heard of. I finally find one. Elf. It seems appropriate. I put it in the DVD player and settle on the couch, watching the previews until Paul comes in.
"What are we watching, Bella?" Paul walks in and hands me a mug full of hot chocolate. He sits down and wraps an arm around my shoulder, pulling me closer to him.
"Elf. It seems appropriate since it's Christmas."
"It's my favorite Christmas movie, you know."
"No, I didn't know that." I take a sip of my drink as Paul presses play on the movie. I move a little closer to him, still being a little cold from our walk, but the drink helps to warm me up a little.
A half hour later, Nick comes down the stairs to leave for the Christmas party. He's dressed up in a black tux, something that I've never seen him wear before. I never could imagine him in one. "Wow, dad. I haven't seen you dress this nice in a long time." Paul comments.
"Yeah, well, don't expect to see me in one until your wedding. I take it you said yes, Bella." He smiles and I can't help but smile back.
"Of course I said yes."
"I'm glad that you did, Bella." He stands at a mirror, adjusting his tie. "I am more than happy to welcome you to the family. As if you weren't a part of this family from the beginning. You two are good for each other. I'm glad that Paul has you."
"Yeah, I'm glad that I have him, too."
Nick leaves and says that he probably won't be back until late. Paul and I continue to watch the movie, both of us making a few comments about it every once in a while. Once it's over, Paul turns the TV off and we both admire the new piece of jewelry on me. "It fits perfect. I'm glad I don't have to get it sized." Paul says after a few minutes of silence.
"Yeah. Your dad had good taste when he bought it. I love it."
"I thought you would. I know that you like things that are kind of older, vintage. I thought my mother's ring would be perfect for you. Have you thought of a date? You know people are going to ask when you tell them."
"Yeah, I've thought about it. How about August 15th? Does that sound good?" I look up into his brown eyes.
"That sounds perfect."
Paul leans in for a kiss that lingers for a bit. After lingering it gets a little more intense. A little more passionate. His arms wrap around to my back and I feel his hands go under my shirt. Soon he moves so that he's hovering over me without breaking the kiss. He moves his lips to my cheek, down my jaw line and finally to my neck, where he nips a little, only teasingly.
"Paul," I laugh a little. "Not here on the couch. If we're going to do this, let's go up to your room."
"What's wrong with the couch? I like the couch."
"Well, for one, it isn't exactly big enough. And what if your dad comes home?"
"He won't be back until late. Probably not until midnight or later. And it's only nine. We have plenty of time. I guess you do have a point, though, with this couch being small."
"Yeah, and I don't think your dad would appreciate it if he found out we had sex on his couch."
"Hm, probably not. Let's go to my room, I guess." Paul throws me over his shoulder, a move I wasn't expecting at all, and carries me upstairs.