Look I'd be lying if I said to you that I knew exactly what I should do
But I've set my whole heart on tryin
Why don't you stay for a while
It's been too long since I've smiled
There's too few people I trust.
I won't ask you for too much, good conversation and such
And if I'm being honest
From time to time you cross my mind, good company is hard to find
From time to time you cross my mind so stay with me
Just for the night.
"Cross My Mind"
I paused mid packing when a knock came at the hotel door. Alice was in the shower and I knew we hadn't ordered room service since we were looking forward to hitting up a little coffee place we'd seen the day before on our way out of town.
Dropping the shirt I was holding, I walked over to the door as another knock sounded.
"Patience!" I yelled and flipped the lock.
The door swung open and my heart leapt in my chest. Edward Cullen stood before me in the nicest pair of faded jeans I'd ever seen. His hair hidden under a knit hat, black leather jacket hung open and he held a bouquet of yellow and white daisies. Before I could utter another word, his hand wrapped possessively at the back of my neck pulling me into his mouth as he bent.
My fingers fisted the leather jacket holding him to me; my lips parted for him without hesitation.
"Sandalwood with hints of citrus."
The words escaped through my parted lips and I felt Edward smile, his hand dropping to my back and squeezing me in a hug.
"It's what you smell like." The heat of embarrassment raced up my neck toward my cheeks.
Of course he knows what he smells like, idiot, he's the one who bathes himself.
"Maybe we could shower together some day." I blurted out.
His fingers stiffened against my back and his chest rose and fell in a sharp breath.
"Shit. I need to stop talking."
"No, no, Bird. Keep right along, I quite fancy where your talking is taking us."
As if on cue, Alice stuck her head out from the bathroom door, a giant grin spread from ear to ear on her little face.
"Hey love birds. Don't mind me, but Bella, I forgot my shirt on the bed, could you be a dear heart and grab it for me?"
Ducking my head, I turned and walked the few steps to the bed she'd been using and grabbed up her shirt.
Alice snatched it from my hand and whispered, "You're welcome. Go getcha some before we leave." She winked and closed the door, the lock slid into place with a click.
Edward was leaning against the now closed room door, arms crossed over his chest, flowers resting in the grip of one large hand and a half cocked grin played across his lips. I could have fucked the sin out of him right there, had Alice not been one door away listening in. All of my fun was going to have to wait. For how long, who knew?
I wrapped my arms around his waist, resting my head on his chest when he opened his arms and breathed in his scent. His free hand pushed through the back of my hair gathering it in his fist, he tugged gently and I looked up, caught in the intensity of his gaze.
"Come home with me."
I raised an eyebrow at his request.
"To Chicago. I want to introduce you to my parents." I couldn't help but notice the way the hair on his chin and jaw sparkled from the overhead light.
"You want me to meet your parents?" He nodded once, his hand heavy in my hair. "You think they'll approve of me? I mean, not that I really care whether or not someone likes me, but parents are different and I really-"
"Bird, I met your parents, I think it went swimmingly, don't you?" He smirked. "Now, I would like for you to meet my parents. Please."
I couldn't argue with good manners.
"In a couple of weeks. Before Christmas."
I sighed quietly, staring up at him.
"Edward, I just took the last three days off, I don't know if I can be away at the holidays like that."
I heard the bathroom door click open and then much to my annoyance, Alice decided to butt in like she always does.
"I got it covered. You go to Chicago for a day or two and I'll swing your shifts with Paul, Leah and Jazz and we can hire holiday help. I'm sure your mom would love to work the shop in the morning."
"Yes, that would make me feel better, my mother working."
"Get over it, Swan, she loves working mornings and you know it. And she's more than capable, she took the morning shift for a few weeks at one point, you know she'll go crazy."
I waved a hand in Alice's direction and heard the smile that was slipping her face when she closed the bathroom door again. The hair dryer blasted to life at the same time that Edward pulled at my hair.
"So you'll come then."
"I better." I grinned at the double entendre.
Edward's lips touched my jaw and he whispered against my skin. "You will."
I stirred my spoon into the blazing hot cup of coffee sitting in front of me at the counter and picked at the chocolate chip muffin that Alice had baked for the morning shift. The shop had been slow the last half hour and with the torrential downpour going on outside, I wasn't certain anyone would brave the streets for coffee and sandwiches at lunch.
I had my phone out next to my mug and grinned when a text came through from Edward. We'd been talking almost non-stop since Alice and I left Seattle the day before.
We'd talked on the phone until I had about passed out in the wee hours of the morning. Discussing what had happened, why he had done what he'd done with Jasper and the video camera and his concerns. We also discussed my own concerns about what he had done, what Jacob had been doing at my house in the middle of the night and the fact that no matter what, we needed to be honest with each other, even if it was going to make the other upset. If we weren't honest with each other, things would never work.
Before hanging up with Edward the night before, I'd almost slipped and told him that I love him. It was about to roll off my tongue as though it were the most natural thing in the world. I laid in bed after hanging up wondering why it seemed like an easy feeling. I thought that love was supposed to be some sort of insane vomit inducing feeling. This just felt right, normal, like I'd been doing this with him forever.
Dur - Morning, Bird. Sleep well?
Bird - Yes, all things considered. You?
Dur - All things considered.. ? Everything okay?
Bird - Perfect.
Dur- Are you quite certain? If something is wrong, you can tell me.
Bird - Yes, I am quite certain. lol
Dur - I love when you text in a British accent, Bird. ;)
Bird - You bloody well should.
Dur - As much fun as we are having, I hate to go. But I must. I have a meeting. I will message you when I am done. Have a good morning, Love.
Bird - Cheerio, old chap!
I dropped my phone onto a shelf under the counter and got back to work.
I'd been coerced into having dinner at Billy's on Wednesday night. I had no desire to run into Jake; I wasn't quite sure what his agenda was, but I really didn't want to hash it out on his turf.
My dad had bugged me on Monday and again on Tuesday before I said yes, asking first if Jake would be there. Charlie had told me that Jake was back up in Seattle working and wouldn't be in town for dinner on Wednesday. Breathing a sigh of relief, I agreed to go.
"I just don't like it, Bella. I think it's a bad idea." Alice was sweeping the back room after we'd closed on Tuesday night. "I know that you said he's not going to be there, I just worry that he's going to ambush you and he's such an ass."
She leaned on the broom and stared me down.
"Look, Alice, I've known Billy forever, and Charlie is going to be there. As a matter of fact, I'm driving up with him so don't worry. And Jake certainly won't start shit with my dad there. Charlie would shoot his ass."
Alice shook her head. "I still don't like it." Her lips twisted. "Did you tell Edward?"
"Fuuuuuuck." I breathed out. "No. I didn't. He worries enough as is and he can't be here, so I sort of feel like it does him no good."
Alice glared and flipped her long hair over her shoulder.
"You know what! Text that man or call him and tell him your plans. Being sneaky didn't work out in the past and it won't work out now. Deal with it. Dammit, woman!"
"Shit, Alice. Chill out. I'll tell him."
"Now." She pointed at my pocket that held my phone.
Dammit. I pulled my phone from my pocket and brought the screen to life.
"Call him. Don't' text. I want to hear you tell him."
"Holy damn, Alice, what are you? My mother?" I knew Alice was only trying cover all of the bases, especially after the shit storm that we all just went through. I admired her tenacity and was thankful for the push, I just really didn't want to piss Edward off. And I knew this would get under his skin.
I dialed his number and held the phone to my ear, with my free hand I flipped Alice the bird and watched her grin.
Edward's voice came through the phone panting and out of breath.
"What are you doing?"
"At the gym. You okay?"
"Yeh, I just wanted to talk to you about something, but it can wait if you're busy."
Alice shot me the death glare.
"No, I'm here, let me walk away from my trainer."
Alice kept watching me, not letting me turn away.
"Alright, sweetheart, what's going on?"
My heart chased itself in circles at the endearment.
"Well, I just wanted to let you know that I am having dinner at Billy's house tomorrow night with my dad."
Alice huffed out an exasperated sigh.
"Who's Billy?" His confusion was loud and clear.
"Um, Billy is my dad's best friend." Alice came over and slapped the back of my head. "It's Jake's dad."
I reached out and smacked Alice back on the arm and grinned when she winced.
The line went dead silent.
"Yes, I am here." His voice was tight. "Will Jacob be joining you for dinner?" I could hear the strain in his voice.
"No. He's not even in town. He's back up in Seattle at work. I figured since I was going with Charlie and Jake wasn't going to be there, it wouldn't be a big deal. I don't think Billy needs to suffer because his son is a jackass. So I'm going to have dinner with them."
Alice nodded once in approval and I flipped her off again and turned away from her.
"Okay. Well, be safe. I understand having family friends and you're a smart girl, you know the right thing to do. And I'm glad that you called to let me know."
I slammed my wrapped fists into the bag over and over. If I couldn't take my frustrations out on Jacob's face, I could at least imagine the punching bag was his ugly mug.
"Son of a bitch!" I breathed out and shoved the bag hard with both hands.
I could trust Bella. I wasn't worried about her being faithful; I wasn't worried about her doing or saying the right thing or taking care of herself. I was worried about what that jackass was plotting quietly. He quite obviously had some sort of sick obsession with my Bird, whether he had shown it in the past or not, he now had issues, and I wasn't willing for her to fall victim to his sick game.
I needed to let her go and live her life as she would have if I weren't in it. I couldn't just step in and take over, play protector, bloody hell, I wanted to though. I wanted to so much.
Instead, I beat the shit out of a bag and then ran for miles on a lousy treadmill to quell my desire to go to her.
Dinner with Billy had been wonderful, just like I knew it would be. He and Charlie had a few beers, we enjoyed a round of poker that I won, and filled our bellies with warm delicious home cooked goodness.
As we were leaving, Billy grabbed my hand and smiled brightly.
"It was good to see you again, Bella. You've been a stranger around here lately and I've missed you. Be sure to come back up around Christmas to see Jake, he'll be back for a few days then."
My stomach clenched at the mention but I smiled and nodded.
"Will do, Billy. I had a great time tonight and I'll definitely be back to have dinner with you if you keep cooking like that." We hugged and I trudged myself to my dad's car and got behind the wheel. Charlie hated to drive even if it was just one beer, so after two, he was adamant that I should drive us back.
After saying goodnight to my mom and dad, I hopped into my car and left for home. I was exhausted and ready for a long hot shower and bedtime. I hadn't heard from Edward much over the day and figured he was just a tad grumpy about my dinner date. After my shower, I'd text him.
Sprawling out in a pair of grey yoga pants and a t-shirt, I reached for my phone and was greeted with a text from my favorite Dur.
Dur - Been thinking of you tonight. I hope you've made it home safely.
Bird - I did. I just took a long hot shower and I am crawling into bed right now. I miss you.
Dur - I miss you too, sweetheart.
I decided if I was going to do this, I wasn't going to do it via text.
I could hear the smile in his words and my heart fluttered out of control.
"I just wanted to tell you something, but I didn't want to do it over text."
"Oh? Well, let's have it then, so long as I'm not in trouble for anything."
I took a deep breath and tried to calm my shaking nerves.
"Edward, I just wanted to tell you that, uh- I mean, oh shit, I'm just gonna say it. If I just blurt it out then it's out there and over with and I don't have to worry about what will happen because you'll know and then I'll know and then-"
"Bella. Sweetheart." I could hear the concern loud and clear. "Are you okay? You know you can tell me anything."
Now or never, Bella.
"I love you."
I blurted it out and all I could hear was the loud humming in my ears of the blood racing through my thudding heart.
"I love you too, Bella."
Edward chuckled quietly.
"Yes, Isabella, I love you."
"Oh wow. I never thought, I mean, I didn't' know. I wasn't sure what you would say or how you felt. But this is good. Because we both love each other, so that's a good thing."
"Yes, I'd say it was a bloody wonderful thing, considering I've felt this way a while now. I'm glad the feeling is mutual."
"Very mutual, Edward." My feet kicked out under my blanket and laid back letting out a big yawn.
"Get some rest, Bird. I'll talk to you tomorrow and we'll decide what days are good for our trip."
"Perfect. Goodnight, Edward. Sweet dreams and I love you."
"Love you too, Bird. Sweet dreams."