Please enjoy. I don't own Twilight. These chapters are un-betaed, so please be kind. I apologize for any errors.
Chapter 15: Underneath the Mistletoe
Bella looked away from me bashfully, embarrassed by how intently I had been gazing at her.
I had gone hunting soon after she had woken up, and as our agreement stated, she would accompany me, so I could watch her transform.
"How can I not stare? You're too beautiful for words," I told her, watching the colored wind rustle her hair.
Bella truly was a vision in her spirit form. It was like seeing a fairy, an angel, goddess, something so incredibly stunning and bewitching but seemed too good to be true. She was magnificent.
She was listening to my thoughts. She was adorable when she was embarrassed. After she had shed her physical skin, I had attacked her. She was so enchanting that I couldn't help myself. We had rolled around in the snow, making love as the water melted, and vegetation grew under us, catalyzed by Bella's presence. We laid naked simply gazing at and holding each other
"Would you rather I say it out loud?" I asked, leaning over so I could see her face.
You've already told me how gorgeous you think I am several times, and you've thought it even more. It's embarrassing.
Her expression was so shy and cute that I wanted very much to go one teasing her, but I knew we wouldn't get away with avoiding my family today. It was Christmas Eve.
I sighed regrettably. I had absolutely no desire to let her change back or return to my family, but somethings were just out my hands. I leaned down and kissed her, tasting her thoroughly, groaning when I felt how eagerly she responded. She arched against me, pressing herself against my body in such an intimate way that I knew she wanted me again. Oh, how I wanted her!
She wrapped her legs around my waist, and I lost the battle. I ravished her one more time, reveling in the ethereal feel of her. I feared I was being too rough, too desperate, but the rock of her hips against mine encouraged my movements. It was fast but powerful when we reached our climax.
You need to change back. I have no prayer of resisting you when you're like this.
She laughed, a delightful sound, and nodded her head in understanding. I watched in awe as the flora attached to her, melding together to form skin. Until my mate was once again physical and flushed with life. She was also very much naked still.
"Bella," I groaned, "please get dressed, love."
"What's wrong? You've seen me bare many times," she teased me, eyes sparkling. She knew very well that she was tormenting me.
"Yes, and I will never see you clothed again if you don't get dressed," I told her, all the while slipping on my jeans and sweater.
"You're also going to freeze to death in this weather," I reminded her all the while trying not to give into the temptation of grabbing her again.
"Fine," she huffed, finally tugging on her many layers of clothes. I noticed that her hair had grown back to its original knee length. Rosalie and Alice would have to cut it again.
I helped her lace up her boots. She leaped onto my back, and we were off to the main house. She giggled the whole time, as she usually does when I run with her. I pushed myself even faster, urging her to laugh more. Her laugh echoed off the trees, and I couldn't help but chuckle myself when she yelped as I jumped over a fallen tree. When we finally reached the house and I let her down, she was still giggling.
Well, someone had some really good sex. Emmett smirked at us, taking in the smiles on our faces and how closely we were holding each other.
"Shut up, Emmett," I greeted my brother as he walked towards us.
"I didn't say anything," he retorted, that dumb smirk still on his face. I rolled my eyes as Bella skipped over to him, jumped up, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Hello, Emmett," she greeted him sweetly.
"See, this is the kind of love everyone should give me! Hello, Bells," he boomed in his ridiculously loud, baritone voice, scooping her up in his burly arms and spinning her.
Bella had not only gotten used to family, but she had grown to love them. She kissed their cheeks, laughed with them, teased them, and talked with them. I was glad that she seemed to be bonding so well with everyone. She seemed genuinely happy to be a Cullen. My family had fallen for her almost as quickly as I had. Not one of them, even Rose, could resist her enchantment. She was well-loved and happy.
My mate called for me, standing at the top of the patio steps after Emmett had finally set her down. She had a bright smile on her face, and her eyes were sparkling as she held out her hand for me. I was at her side in an instant, tangling her fingers with mine.
"Ahem," Emmett coughed, pointing above us. I looked up to see a sprig of mistletoe dangling from the overhang.
"What is that?" Bella asked, staring at the plant.
"It's mistletoe, love. It's a Christmas tradition that when two people are under the mistletoe, they have to kiss," I explained to her.
"Well then, it's lucky Edward got here before I did. We wouldn't want to cause an altercation," Neil stated, stepping out of the house and passing by all of us.
My spine stiffened at the lingering look he gave Bella. I growled at him, putting my arms around her waist and tugging her to me. She hid her face in my chest, clinging to me, and Emmett clenched his fists when Neil passed him by, a vicious look in his eye.
You saw the look he just gave Bella? Emmett's thoughts were furious but nowhere as vile as mine.
"I really will gouge out his eyes one day," I snarled.
"Edward, don't worry about him. Esme said we're leaving in a few days, and he didn't try to touch me," Bella tried calm me, rubbing my chest, sliding her hand up my shoulders until she could reach my face. She turned my head so I was looking at her.
You owe me a kiss, remember?
I felt myself lose the battle. I couldn't resist my Bella. I leaned down and kissed her waiting lips, forgetting Emmett was watching us when her tongue met mine.
"I said kiss each other, not eat each other," he whined. I rolled my eyes, pecking my mate's lips one more time before glaring at his unabashed faced.
Still shaking my head, I guided Bella into the warmth of the house, and helped her out of her heavy coat and boots. Even now, she still preferred to walk around barefoot. She wouldn't even wear socks if she could help it.
My family was lounging around in the living room along with Irina, Kate, Garret, Carmen, and Eleazar. Tanya and Neil apparently weren't coming. Bella went to greet everyone, cheerfully distributing kisses and hugs to everyone.
"Wow, your hair grew back!" Alice noted in surprise.
"Oh my gosh! That's amazing! That means we can try all sorts of hairstyles and cuts. Our hair doesn't grow, so we could never experiment with different cuts, but yours grew back in only a few days," Rosalie chimed excitedly.
She usually wasn't this enthusiastic. It was amusing to see. I leaned against the entry way and watched her join my sisters on the couch as they fussed over her. My mate truly was a part of the family. As I remembered the ring, I realized that she would soon be officially a Cullen. I felt almost guilty not telling them about Bella's transformation, but it was something she was very conscious about. She would tell them if she wanted them to know. I would support her no matter what she chose to do.
"Hello, Dear," Esme greeted me, kissing my cheeks.
"Hello, Mom," I answered, returning her embrace.
"Well, stop isolating yourself over here. Come sit with us," she ordered, leading me over to the sofa, so I could sit in the nearby recliner. Carlisle greeted me with a smile and a pat on the shoulder from his perch on the sofa.
"We are going to spend family time watching Christmas movies," Kate informed me.
"Oh, that reminds me," Alice announced, jumping up. She dashed up the stairs and was back within a minute with a bunch of red Santa hats.
"Everyone gets one!" she stated happily, dancing around the room and plopping them on everyone's heads.
Bella took one for me after having received her own and walked over to me, placing the hat gently but firmly on my head before situating herself in my lap. Before I could put my arms around her, she grabbed one of my hands in each of her own and pulled them to wrap my arms around her mid-section.
"I don't get to control my own arms anymore?" I asked, playfully squeezing her.
"You're mine, remember? That means your arms are too," she stated.
"You tell him, Girl!" Kate cheered causing Garrett to roll his eyes next to her.
"Alright, children. Let's settle down," Carmen teased, "and start the first movie. Now, I think How the Grinch Stole Christmas should be first."
"Jim Carrey version," Emmett added from where he sat with Rose.
"Very well. Grinch it is," Alice agreed, going to the case to grab the DVD. The flat screen soon showed Whoville.
Esme passed me a soft blanket for Bella, and I extended the footrest on the recliner so we could get more comfortable.
This is a nonrealistic movie, right? Bella asked, confused by the Grinch's actions and the aesthetics of the Whos.
Yes, love. It's fictional. I answered her, paying very little attention to the movie in favor of playing with her curls.
Why is he the only green one? Even though she didn't ask the question out loud, she still tilted her head to side as she always did whenever she was curious about something. It was one of her childlike habits that didn't seem to be going anywhere. I thought it was charming.
I'm not sure. He was just always different, so everyone treated him as an outcast.
That's sad. She sympathized with the Grinch. He must be lonely. I'm glad he has Max.
I watched my mate throughout the whole movie, enraptured by her reactions to the antics going on screen. She seemed to be really enjoying the movie. She laughed and pouted prettily in response to what was happening on the screen. Other times, she was completely engrossed, her face filled with fascination. When the end credits finally started rolling, Bella clapped happily. My God she was adorable.
"That one gets me every time," Garrett joked, faking tears.
"I liked that movie," my darling said.
"More Jim Carrey to come. Next is Disney's A Christmas Carol," announced Emmett, only too happy to change the DVDs. No one object. Once he had placed the new DVD in the player, he settled back next to Rose.
"So it's the same actor?" Bella asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Jasper answered.
"I like him. He's funny," Bella responded.
"Edward, you've been very quiet," Irina commented from next to her sister. She had a concerned look on her face though the two of us were never really close.
"Don't you worry about him, Irina. Edward has been perfectly content this whole time. He would just rather watch Bella than the television," Jasper explained, throwing a smirk my way. I wasn't going to deny it.
Bella twisted so she could face me.
Aren't you enjoying the movies?
I like them just fine, but I love you. I enjoy watching you and all your lovely expressions more than watching movies.
I leaned down and kissed her pink lips. She smiled adoringly at me in response, gifting me with one more soft kiss before returning to her original position, facing the television. I couldn't even say she was in my lap anymore. Rather, she was lying on top of me, her head just barely elevated my chest, so she could see the television.
"Stop being all cutesy and pay attention! This is a very educational movie about morals. You could learn a thing or two," Emmett scolded us, a fake scowl on his face.
"Oh, hush and watch the screen," I retorted, tangling my fingers with Bella's and bring them to my lips.
The movie started, and everyone quieted down. Bella scowled at Scrooge's behavior at the beginning. She seemed to be completely in awe at the three spirits. She adored Tiny Tim. I was glad she was enjoying herself, and she seemed to understand the movie. She was learning very quickly about living in the real world. She readily adapted to new things and kept an open mind. I still had my trepidations about her going to school with us, but I knew she could handle it. The real question was whether or not I could.
"The ghost of present reminds me of Emmett," she commented once the movie was finally over.
"I'm a holly, jolly giant," Emmett boasted.
"You're just big and loud," Rosalie said, stuffing the puff ball from Emmett's Santa hat into his mouth, all the while wearing an affectionate grin.
"This is true," Jasper remarked, snickering as Emmett spit the ball out of his mouth with a disgusted look on his face.
"Next up is the Santa Clause series," Kate announced, getting up to change the DVD.
"Is Jim Carrey in this one too?" Bella asked excitedly.
"Nope, but the movies are still pretty good," Kate answered back.
Bella pouted, not the least bit encouraged by Kate's words. She slinked back against my chest, and I couldn't resist having her skin so close to my lips and not kissing it. I peppered kisses up her neck, along her cheek. She giggled and squirmed in my lap as my lips tickled her. The feel of her shifting in my lap only increased my arousal.
"Hey, calm down over there, you two," Jasper chided us, dousing us with a cold bucket of calm.
"Silence in the theater!" Emmett added.
We were yelled at. Bella grinned at me with mischievous eyes.
It would seem so. I continued nuzzling her neck, and she fought against her laughter.
You're going to get me in trouble. She turned in my arms, so she rested on her front and faced me. Her eyes contained an invitation.
This wasn't helping my self-control. It only made it that much easier to kiss her, and I now had access to her delicious lips. I sucked on her bottom lip, sliding my hand up her shirt so it rested on the small of her back. Her skin was soft and warm against mine, and here lips were nectar and ambrosia as she kissed me back. Bella squealed as we were suddenly pelted with pillows
"Damn teenagers," Eleazar grumbled, causing the whole room to burst into laughter.
She brings him so much joy.
Esme's thoughts waded into my mind. She was smiling at us lovingly, admiring the light that shone in our faces when Bella and I were together. I turned and winked at her; she was completely right.
"Edward, why are you winking at my wife?" Carlisle asked, acting aggressive.
"Man, hitting on Mom is so not cool," Jasper joined in.
"I agree. Certain lines shouldn't be crossed, and it's disrespectful to flirt with other women when your mate is in your lap," Irina chimed in.
"It makes so much sense now! Edward was always Mom's favorite. They were having an affair!" Emmett exclaimed, putting his hand over his heart.
"Oh. Poor Carlisle and Bella," Rosalie joked along. Alice nodded in agreement, trying to make a solemn expression but giggling all the while.
"Scandalous! What kind of family have I gotten into," Garrett murmured, causing Kate and Carmen to go into hysterics.
"This is too much idiocy for one room," I groaned, leaning my head back against the recliner.
"It seems we've been found out, my dear," Esme sighed. My head snapped up, surprised that my mother was going along with their antics.
"Esme! Why? With our son!" Carlisle gasped. Mom had just added fuel to the fire.
"This is the worst Christmas Eve in history," Eleazar remarked.
"Shh, all of you. I'm trying to watch the movie," Kate intervened, still snickering next to Garrett.
"How can you watch movies at a time like this? Esme and Edward are having an affair!" yelped Alice.
"That's it! I'm never winking again," I growled exasperatedly. I wasn't really upset. I couldn't be with Bella laughing against me, obviously enjoying my family's foolishness.
"I like it when you wink at me," Bella whispered again my cheek.
"Oh, sweet Bella. You're so forgiving," Rose shook her head mournfully.
"I'll forgive you as well, Darling," Carlisle told Esme.
"Hmm, thank you, but I still prefer Edward," she answered with a straight face.
Carlisle's face actually froze for a moment. Emmett, Jasper, Rose, and Kate guffawed. Everyone else tried to squash their laughter with no chance of success. Bella buried her face in my neck, her small frame trembling with laughter.
"I think my change was less painful than that," Carlisle finally said after recovering from his shock.
"Oh hush. You know I love only you," Esme finally stopped teasing him, planting a soft kiss on his lips.
"You've been dumped, Ed," Emmett commented. "Better luck next time, man."
"Shut up, Emmett," I growled for what already felt like the twelfth time today. I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't hide the smile that was on my face.
I had rarely ever joked with my family like this. I had always been aware of the number of couples. It felt as if I was intruding. Other times I simply didn't feel any desire to joke around. I had been miserable the majority of the time. Their minds would describe me as cold and withdrawn. With Bella, I was actually that much closer to them. Under the jokes and banter, everyone was thinking the same thing: they were glad I was finally able to laugh with them.
We tried to turn our attention back to the movie, but it was really hopeless. All the couples couldn't stop thinking about one another. I hadn't even tried to focus on the movies, knowing Bella would have my attention the entire time. As she began to doze off in my arms, I stroked her long air down her back. She hummed in contentment, snuggling closer to me.
"What's wrong with you people? You're all so boring that Bella fell asleep. What kind of Christmas party is this? Pathetic!" Emmett complained.
"Bella isn't bored, Emmett. A certain vampire with messy hair wore her out," Alice commented with a sly grin on her face.
"Here we go," Carlisle groaned, rolling his eyes and causing everyone to snicker.
"My private life with Bella does not need to be discussed," I stated, keeping my voice low so as not to wake my dozing mate. She was still somewhat awake. She was conscious of my hand stroking her hair and moaned softly at my touch.
They're so precious.
I looked up to see Carmen smiling at us. Everyone stared at us. I buried my face in Bella's hair not used to everyone paying so much attention to me. For so long I had been the man out. I had stood in corners, away from all family activity and cooing couples. I had gone on runs and sat on tree branches.
It's a good thing, Brother.
Jasper told me feeling my embarrassment as well as my happiness. He wore a playful smirk, but his eyes were filled with understanding. He too had preferred to stand back and observe when he had first joined the family. Alice and Emmett had been the ones to draw him out of his shell. They had tried to do the same for me being the balls of energy that they were, but unlike Jasper, I had been alone. Things were different now, and I was grateful that they were.
You smell good.
Bella's mind was dreamlike and barely coherent. I struggled not to laugh loudly in order to wake her, but I couldn't control the vibrations in my chest. She was too adorable.
"I'm glad you were able to spend Christmas with us this year," Alice told me.
"Why wouldn't I?" I asked in surprise.
"Well, you wanted to stay behind, remember? Before Bella came, you were planning to live away from us. I was worried that you would decide not to spend Christmas with us," Alice confided in me.
"I felt the same," Esme confessed softly.
"The boys probably won't say it, but we all felt badly about leaving you behind. Our family isn't the same without you, no matter how quiet you are," Rosalie said, reluctant to show her sentimentality.
"I probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for Bella. Even if I were here, I probably wouldn't be watching movies or going on Christmas shopping trips. I could never be jovial enough to enjoy Christmas feeling the way I did. I felt that I made it worse for all of you," I told them.
"You didn't. We know you felt that way, but you honestly didn't," Jasper responded to me, and I didn't need to read his mind to know he was being sincere.
"Having all of you together brings your mother and me so much joy. I'm glad to have you all and Bella as well. She's been a wonderful addition to our family," Carlisle said, smiling fondly at all of us. Esme kissed his cheek and rested her head on his shoulder nodding in agreement.
"You're all a bunch of sissies," Emmett sneered. This time we all threw pillows at him.
"There was this one year when we went to a Christmas function at the hospital Carlisle was currently employed in, and they were serving hot chocolate, so we would empty our cups into this plant in a corner of the room," Esme started the story, already snickering.
"But the damned waiters just kept refilling our cups even when we said we didn't want any," Jasper joined in," so after a while, with seven cups being poured into the thing every half-hour, the hot chocolate began to leak out of the pot."
"So this one lady who worked at the hospital had a crush on Carlisle and cornered him as he was emptying his cup. She tried to get him to dance with her, and when she reached for him, she slipped in the hot chocolate, fell on the floor, and it got all over her peach dress," Rose chortled.
"Bella, it was hilarious! Carlisle's face was hysterical!" Alice was having a giggling fit.
"It served the woman right, too. Flirting with a man when she knew he was married," Esme remarked, scowling. Carlisle shook his head and chuckled, stroking Esme's back.
I chuckled remembering the awful woman. We had laughed about that party for weeks after that incident. Eventually we had given up on watching the movies in favor of telling stories. This was mostly due to Emmett's short attention span an apparent vampire ADHD. Bella was giggling in my lap, absolutely loving the stories my family was reliving.
"Oh, gosh, I remember when Emmett first joined us, he hadn't realized what happened when we swallowed food. He ate half of a fruit cake," Kate laughed, barely able to get out the words.
"That was the funniest face I had ever seen Emmett make," Alice giggled along. "He felt when the food just sat there, and when we told him he had to throw up half of a fruit cake, I swear he turned green!"
"That was the worst day of my life," Emmett said woefully. Rose was having a laughing fit next to him.
"Rosie, you're supposed to love me!" he whined.
"I do love you," she gasped out, still chuckling. "That doesn't make the story any less funny." Emmett simply pouted at her response.
"Poor Emmett," my love giggled.
"Where was Bella all these years? She's the only one who cares about me," Emmett complained, crossing his arms.
"It's funny. I feel the same way," I whispered into her neck. She turned her head and kissed me.
"No! That time in high school when we did Secret Santa and that girl, um… April!" Alice began excitedly. Jasper, Rose, and Emmett burst into hysterics at just the sound of the girl's name. I groaned at the unwanted reminder.
"What happened?" Garrett asked with a curious smile, eying my laughing siblings.
"She got Edward a box of condoms and a card with her address on it," Alice struggled to finish through her laughter.
"No!" Kate gasped, disbelief allover her face.
"It's true," Rose gasped.
"What are condoms?" Bella asked innocently. The room grew completely silent as everyone fought not to laugh. Jasper was the first to give in, made weak by the feelings of amusement that were so strong in the room.
"Well, young Bella, condoms are –" Emmett began to speak.
"Something that will be discussed at a later and more appropriate date," Esme cut him off, giving him a pointed look.
"Yes, Mom," Emmett grumbled, starting a new round of laughter. My family was crazy.
Those crazy Cullens.