The first few months seemed to pass quickly. Edward was surprisingly great about everything. He didn't show any signs of pity, though he always wanted to be updated on all of my check ups. And he often chatted with my dad at length about everything involving my health. His concern was something I actually enjoyed. It showed how much he cared for me and that was wonderful.
Yes, they were buddies now. Weird, huh? Well, they still had yet to shake hands, but Dad had no problem with him being in the condo, and actually appreciated all of Edward's medical insight—from research. I did, too.
I was, gratefully, still holding Edward off from telling his parents about my condition. He was still trying to talk me into it every day, thinking that his father could use his connections to really help me. But as of right now, I was okay. Dr. Denali had just finished telling me that while I hadn't improved, I hadn't really gone downhill much, either…much.
I guess, no matter what, every day my heart continued to beat, it would put more and more stress on it and would give me less and less time. That was something I had understood since age twelve. God, while good, didn't make me to last. He had a plan for me, and it was short term. Whatever it was, I knew it was also something I'd come to accept.
Along with a wonderful fall semester of school, Thanksgiving came and went. I spent most of it with Dad, cooking us a nice meal, not wanting to leave him alone on a holiday. I also had to nap later in the day, so I could call Mom and talk to her for a while about her flower shop; she told how, because of the holidays, business was really starting to take off. After that I was still energized enough to sit through dessert with Edward's family, and I was lucky, I was able to hold his hand almost the whole time.
I had to admit I saw them staring, watching me, almost. And it made me wonder, why? What on Earth would interest them so much about me, so suddenly?
Not to mention that his mother had been kind of off to me. She ignored me most of the evening and only chatted with me when Edward had gone above and beyond to include me.
Dad told me I was just paranoid, thinking they were staring at me because Edward finally knew the truth. He assured me that Edward was a good boy and there was nothing to worry about.
I took Dad's word to heart. I appreciated his opinion, and honestly, one look at Edward told me that I felt the same way. It was wonderful finally seeing him sitting on my couch and having his fingers strung through mine. Dad was really okay with all that too. He knew I was well aware of my limits and he made sure that Edward was aware of them too. So he knew we would be good, that we wouldn't try anything that would cause me harm.
I was busy searching for my black tights. I wanted to look great for the evening. It was mine and Edward's first Christmas together. We were heading to his parents' house for dinner, while Billy and Jake were coming here to spend the evening with Dad. I was a little relieved that Dad wouldn't be spending tonight alone.
"Hey babe, are you almost ready?" I heard Edward's voice resonate from the other side of my door.
And even though I'd heard it time and time again, it still sent flutters rushing through my stomach. It was something that was inevitable with Edward; he always made me feel so special.
"Yep, I'll be right out," I told him as I finally got my hands on my tights. They were going to go great with my new red dress and sparkly heels. Alice had helped yet again, she was a really great friend, and I told her that, over and over. Without Alice and her support, I really wasn't sure where I would be right now. I was very grateful to have her in my life.
I grabbed the gift she helped me pick out for Edward and stuck it in my purse.
I checked my hair one last time before finally stepping out into the living room, where I found Dad, Jake, Billy, and Edward all chatting with smiles on their face.
The image was beyond pleasing and I couldn't stop my mirroring smile in return.
"Hello, beautiful," Edward whispered as he came and put his arm around my waist, pulling me into his side.
Like usual, I felt cherished when I was with him; he made me feel like the center of his world. And because of that, I couldn't hide the blush that was flooding my cheeks at that moment.
"Hi," I replied shyly.
"Bella baby, look at you," my dad said in awe, getting up from his chair and crossing the room to me. "You're so grown up now. You look beautiful, sweetheart." Dad pulled me into a hug before kissing my forehead. "I just hope you remember that even if you look grown up, you know what obstacles you still have to face."
I quickly nodded before thanking him for his comments and kissing his cheek. He was my dad and no matter how prevalent my health was in my life, he still needed to remind me to be good.
Dad mumbled something to Edward then we said our goodbyes and were on our way.
"Mom and Dad are going to be so excited to see you," Edward told me on the way out to the car.
"I'm looking forward to seeing them too," I replied truthfully. Edward's parents had been busy lately, so the few times I'd been over since Thanksgiving, they were working and I'd missed them.
Edward held my door when I got out, and then quickly wrapped me in his jacket, pulling me close while we walked to the door. He probably didn't know it, but that single move, right there, had been enough to make me feel like the most important girl in the world, a feat that was not small. Of course, though, he had a habit of doing just that, sometimes several times a day.
Esme, as Mrs. Cullen liked to be called, greeted us at the door with a warm Merry Christmas, pulling us both into a hug. As she did the scent of a real, honest to goodness Christmas assaulted my nose. Real pine from the expertly lit tree in the corner, mixed with freshly baked pastries and pies. It was all so much, so good.
"You look wonderful, sweetheart," Esme told me, and I felt slightly emotional.
Mom and Dad always tried to make the holidays special for me when I was a kid, making sure there were loads of presents under the tree. They even had a family friend dress up as Old Saint Nick to come visit me, but I had to say that our house never smelt or even felt like Edward's.
Mom couldn't have a real tree in her condo because the visiting nurses always told her they didn't know what could be on the tree and what it would do to me, so even in Jacksonville we had a fake tree. And Dad, he wouldn't have a real tree, not in his condo. No way, no how: too many germs or bacteria. Plastic was all I knew, and while fake trees had come a long way in their time, they still never smelt like a real one; they never provided the same feeling that a real one did.
Honestly, just seeing one made me want to go throw on some footie pajamas and have a mug of hot cocoa. I felt like a little kid with no worries.
But nagging reality always cleared my clouded mind.
"Honey, Edward and Bella are here," Esme announced while I tried to pull myself out of my day dream of a childhood Christmas morning.
"You okay, baby?" Edward kissed my neck softly, while his mother had her back turned to us. He liked to do that, and I really liked when he did it. It was definitely enough to put me back in the present; that was for sure.
"Yeah, sorry," I mumbled as Mr. Cullen made his way around the corner and smiled at us.
"Hey you two," Edward's dad greeted us, shaking my hand. "Merry Christmas, Bella."
"Merry Christmas to you too, Carlisle."
It felt weird calling him that, but he insisted upon it; there was no way I was allowed to call him Mr. Cullen, he had told me on our first meeting, just over a month ago.
I still wasn't comfortable around him, being a doctor and all. I was afraid he would be able to tell what was wrong with me with just one look, but thankfully, even if he did have a clue, he never said anything. And I always made sure my neckline never slipped, not letting him see my scars and weaknesses.
"Rose should be down in a minute; why don't we head into the living room to relax?" Esme suggested.
Once we were all sitting cozily on the leather couch waiting for Rose, I snuggled into Edward's side, enjoying his scent, breathing it in for later, when I would be in my cold bed, alone.
Even though I hadn't really ever had any sort of sexual experience, it didn't stop the need and desire to be close to Edward, to savor my time with him. I had to say, the tingling feeling between my thighs that began when he was close, made me want something more.
But alas, I knew, nothing like that could happen.
Not yet at least.
The doctor told me that we needed to keep it PG until she could be more conclusive about my health status while incorporating sex.
When Rose did finally make it downstairs we sat around talking for a while, most was the Cullens reminiscing about past Christmases. Edward and Rose really got into it, letting me know about some of their favorite and disastrous holidays. It all sounded like so much fun, between the warm and fuzzy moments, the comedy of Carlisle being a terrible cook and always burning the turkey, it was perfect.
I loved hearing about Edward's childhood, even if it was only a glimpse at some parts; it was still wonderful that they shared it all with me.
Rose seemed quiet though, after she had finished laughing and sharing her side of things, she settled back into the couch, picking at pieces of lint. I wondered to myself what was going on with her. I'd really never seen her so out of the ordinary. She was usually the first to drum up a conversation and was very vibrant when chatting.
"So Bella, how was your Christmas?" Esme asked after a while.
I told her all about it, and she didn't ask too many questions, for which I was sort of grateful. After that, she and Carlisle excused themselves to get some pie ready for everyone.
And as Edward headed up to his room for a moment, I looked over to Rose, who was still looking forlorn.
"Um—" I cleared my throat. "How was your Christmas, Rose?"
She looked up at me with a grimace. "I got grounded."
I winced. "That really sucks…can I ask why?"
I wondered what on Earth could get someone grounded on Christmas.
"Mom came to wake me up, and I wasn't alone."
I swallowed the wrong way and had a coughing fit for a moment, all with my eyes bugging out. "What?"
She slid closer to me, lowering her voice. "You have to promise not to tell Edward," she began. "I spent the night with Emmett and Edward can't know."
"Holy shit," I squeaked out.
She pulled back a little. "I'm not that much younger than you, Bella," she murmured. "And I know all too well about Edward spending the night with you."
I blinked a few times. It was true; Edward had spent the night with me, but in a totally different context, I was sure of that. But I guess to the unsuspecting person, a teenage sleepover would look…exactly like what Rose implied.
"Uh," I stuttered. But just as I was about to try to explain, Edward appeared and I quickly remembered that Rose did not want him knowing about any of this. So I shut my mouth and clasped my hands together on my lap. I watched carefully as she peeled herself up from the couch and walked to the stairs.
My heart went out to her. In a way, I knew what she was feeling. I had a huge amount of unbridled passion that I wanted to let out on Edward, but I had to hold myself back so much. It was getting more difficult by the day.
"Hey, sweetie," he said softly, with a smile, before pecking me on the lips. "This is for you," he told me, placing a neatly wrapped gift on my lap.
I was left stunned. I had no idea he was getting me a gift, but I guess being the sweet guy he was, I should have expected it—this was still all so new for me. And for whatever reason, I blushed, sitting there staring at the gift.
"Thank you," I whispered. "I, uh, have something for you, too."
I dug it out of my purse and handed it to him. But he ushered me to open mine first. So I did.
Inside the box was a gorgeous, silver necklace: on it was a heart, with a small diamond at the corner of it. Simple and incredibly delicate, just so perfect.
I held it reverently in my hands as I turned back to Edward, gazing up into his shining eyes.
"Thank you…so much, Edward," I choked out, emotionally. "Would you put it on me, please?"
I moved my hair out of the way, and he gently clasped it around my neck, then kissed me softly, whispering against my lips, "You're welcome, baby."
"Now your turn," I told him, smiling.
It wasn't much, but I really knew he'd like it.
I watched as he pulled back the paper, staring at the few items.
"Sweet," he exclaimed. I knew how much he loved Red Sox stuff, so I got him a bumper sticker that he could proudly adorn on his car. And a Red Sox winter hat and gloves, along with a small book all about their stats. "Thank you, baby! I love it!"
He threw an arm around my waist and pulled me closer, then kissed me tenderly several times, thanking me all the while, until a throat cleared from the other side of the room. We broke apart only to see an annoyed Esme staring back at us.
"I was just wondering what kind of pie you two wanted," she snapped, sounding angry.
Edward, thankfully, answered for me, knowing all too well what I'd like. "Apple for Bella and I'll have some chocolate cream, thanks," he answered, shooting her a withering look that made me wonder what was going on.
After an uncomfortable dessert together, Edward decided to drive me home. While I would've preferred to go up to his room and watch a movie with him, I was still happy I got to see him and spend some time with him on Christmas. That was all that mattered to me.
And once we were at my door, he planted a searing kiss on my lips, leaving me a little breathless, for which he apologized for, but I waved him off.
Totally worth it!
That night I fell asleep, dreaming of my first Christmas with my sweet, handsome man.
Best Christmas ever!
Thank you MC for working your Beta magic here! :)
So what did you think was up with Carlisle and Esme?
How about Rose?
And those Christmas gifts?
Next chapter is all ready, so leave me some love and I'll post quickly!