July 2012

I step out of the shower and dry off, throwing on an old t-shirt. I walk into the bedroom, maneuvering my way around everything that's still in the middle of the floor. We just bought our second home. And while we wanted the extra space (and the nicer kitchen), moving will always suck. There are still boxes everywhere, even though Edward swears he unpacked all day. Yeah, I'm not sure I believe him. But the bed is made and it looks unbelievably wonderful and inviting.

I crawl in.

I don't even turn off the light.

I'm asleep before I know it.

I smell him before I feel him – all showered and clean. And then I feel his warm skin as he slides up against me, wrapping one arm around me. I've been awake since he got home.

"I know you're awake," he says softly.

"Yeah, well, I was asleep until you woke me up," I say, turning to face him. "Not all of us are principals and have the summer off. How's Ally?"

"Sleeping, I think."

"She must be tired from all the unpacking you got done."

I laugh, and he pulls me closer.

"I unpacked," he says. "She spent the day with Alice and Emmett until we had pizza tonight. Apparently, Billy got a new iPhone. She's extremely jealous."

"She's twelve," I tell him. "She'll get over it. Besides, the phone isn't really new. Alice gave him her old one."

Yes, we have a daughter. We named her after Alice. Her cousin, Billy, was named after Billy Corgan. We try not to mock his parents shamelessly. We don't really have to – Billy tells them all the time how "stupid and depressing" the Smashing Pumpkins' music is. It pisses Alice off.

I settle against his chest, breathing in deeply. Edward still smells amazing. But he's moved on from Drakkar Noir to something a little more age appropriate. And he no longer smells like smoke – well, most of the time. I know he sneaks them on occasion, but I don't mind as long as it's not every day. And as long as Ally never sees him.

Just as I'm about to fall back asleep, I hear him whisper, "Do you ever think about what would have happened if we'd really run away? If we'd actually gone through with it?"

I open my eyes wide and look up at him.

"What brought this on?"

"I was just…I don't know…thinking about it today."

"I don't know," I tell him, remembering that one night in the cheap motel.

I smile, thinking back on that night. I was so young…and stupid. But nothing really felt stupid. Thank god, Edward had been uncharacteristically reasonable. Although, when I think about it, Edward was always more than anyone – including myself – ever expected.

We went back the next morning. I had a huge blow-up with Charlie, but eventually, all of us sat down together and talked things out. It wasn't easy. And for a long time, my relationship with my dad was very strained. It wasn't until I finished my undergrad and Edward and I were engaged, that he convinced me to make an effort.

But after Charlie conceded that he'd been in the wrong, the rest of my senior year had been relatively normal.

Edward hates when I use that word.

I tell him that when you lack normalcy, you crave it. I know on some level he's right. And I don't want Ally to grow up thinking that she needs to be anything other than who she is…and who she wants to be. That normal is a state of mind – and it's okay to be a little different. But I also know that Edward and I work very hard to provide a stable and loving environment for her.

That is the most important thing to me.

Well, technically, the man in my arms and our daughter are the most important things.

They always have been.

"No, really," I say, "what made you think about this today?"

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe it was hanging out with Alice and Emmett tonight, or maybe it was unpacking and stirring up old memories. I was just…wondering."

"I'm not sure what would have happened. But I'm pretty sure we made the right choice. And…I was only seventeen, so you were right. Plus…just think about this. I was only five years older than Ally is right now." He stiffens in my arms and I laugh. I press a kiss against his neck and he groans a little. Heat spreads through me – sharp and intense. "It was very risky of you to be willing to run away with me while I so young."

"Well, I was bad news," he murmurs, his voice husky.

"You were so not bad news, Edward Cullen."

"Oh yeah?"

"You were the best news ever."

His hands slide down as he grabs my ass.

"No panties, Mrs. Cullen?"

"Mmmm…" I hum as his fingers trail lower. "Not tonight."

"Baby," he breathes, "you're so ready."

He's right. I always am. I lift my leg over his hip, and he touches me more, deeper, spreading me open with two fingers. And I hold onto him like he's the entire goddamn world. And I suppose that he is.

He always has been.

"Now?" he asks.


"Fuck, Bella."

Our few clothes are discarded and Edward slides deep inside. It's quick and quiet. But there's this tension in his movements – the way he's holding on so tight and keeping me so close. I don't question it. I just enjoy it.

When we're finished, and my head is resting on his still pounding heart, I tell him, "I love you."

"You always say it first."

I smile against his skin.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"It better not be if I will help you unpack."

"No." He chuckles. "When did you really fall in love with me?"

"Too long ago to remember."

"No, really," he says, and I turn my face up to his. "When was it?"


He nods.

"Okay, but don't laugh," I tell him. "I think it was the first time I ever met you. When you…looked at me. And talked to me."

"That soon?"

"I was an easy target."

"Because I saw you?"

His words catch me off guard. I don't exactly know why, but there's this truth there that he couldn't possibly realize. Truth that I haven't thought about in so long.

"Yeah," I nod my head slowly. "Because you saw me. What about you? When did you know?"

"Would you believe me if I told you it was the first time I saw you?"


This makes him laugh.

"The night you snuck out for the first time and I took you to the cemetery."

"You fell in love with me in a cemetery, Edward? Nice."

Secretly, I'm smiling.

"I fell in love with you on a Saturday, Bella. You were walking down the street toward me and it was the first time you held my hand."

"See?" I say quietly. "This is why I always have to say it first. Because you always say stuff like that."

"I love you, Bella."

"Good." I giggle. "Does that mean I can go to sleep?"

"Yeah, but can I ask you one more question?"


I yawn and settle against his chest.

"Do you know anyone named Veronica?"

I shake my head, silently telling him no, and he scratches my back softly, lulling me to sleep. The name lingers in my mind – but I'm too tired to figure out why.

In my dreams, I'm seventeen.

And everything is soft blue flannel, cigarettes and first kisses.

When I wake up the next morning, Edward is already gone, but he was wonderful and made me coffee. After I shower and dress, I sit down at the kitchen table. And that's when I see it – right on top of the paper. I recognize it immediately.


This is why he asked.

Snooping asshole.

I'm too surprised to be appropriately pissed, and I pick it up. God, I haven't seen it in forever. I'm pretty sure it's been shoved in a box since we moved in together in college.

I open it up…

October 23, 1994

Dear Diary,

You should know that I don't consider you a diary at all. Diaries are for little girls with pink bedrooms and fluffy slippers and moms who tuck them into soft beds at night even if the little girl complains that she's too old to be tucked in. I don't have any of that. I barely even have a bedroom. And I certainly don't have a bedroom of my own.

I don't stop reading.

I don't stop crying either.

I'm so far removed from the girl that I was, and somehow, still the same in so many ways.

And reading makes me grateful for all the love I have in my life.

I was so fucking lonely.

And so fucking hopeful all at the same time.

When I reach the end, I realize it was after that night – the night we ran away – that I stopped writing in her. And after being immersed in my own seventeen-year-old thoughts, I wonder why. When truthfully, I know – Edward.

I can't even be mad at him for reading. Almost every thought was of him, and he knows them all anyway. And if I'm being honest, I would have done the same exact thing.

And that's when I see it – perfect and bold and unmistakably him – Edward's handwriting.

July 13, 2012

Dear Veronica,

She left you in a rather precarious place.

Allow me to fill in the gaps and answer any questions you might have.

Bella didn't wait to tell me that she loved me. She told me first. It was that night, actually, and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.

It was probably the greatest, since all the other great moments were directly related to and dependent upon her love for me.

The first time we had sex. (I only reference this here because she talked to you about it so often.)

The night she agreed to marry me.

The afternoon she became my wife.

The morning she gave birth to our daughter, Ally, after seventeen hours of labor.

She's tough.

She's always been tough.

But you already know that, don't you?

She has a life now. A full life. And I hope that it's a happy one.

She's important.

She's good at her job – editor in chief of our local paper.

She's a good friend.

She's an amazing and forgiving daughter. She's helped me to be the same kind of son.

She's a great mom…an even better wife.

Thank you for listening when she needed someone to talk to.

Based on the date of her last entry, I'd like to think that I've done a pretty good job of taking over your role.


Edward Cullen

PS: I've seen her white cotton panties. I loved them. They were hot.

PPS: She still takes long showers. I try to join her as often as possible.

PPPS: She might have loved me first, but I will always love her most.




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